Abstract Order volatility is an unfortunate fact of life facing most suppliers of both products and services. In this paper we are concerned with establishing the magnitude of the problem faced by the European automotive sector. The evidence has been acquired via the site-based Quick Scan Audit Methodology (QSAM). Production scheduler strategy is thereby classified according to a new five-set schema as observed via individual value-stream volatilities. System variables have then been codified and correlated with customer order volatility. Powerful statistically significant relationships emerge from this evidence. This generally (but not wholly) supports intrinsic views on what constitutes good practice. A specific interface between supplier and OEM shows the existence of a positive loop that acts as a vicious circle to create unnecessary volatility in material flow.