GM finishes grading its top 200 suppliers

Program aims to improve the automaker's relations with key companies

GM purchasing chief Grace Lieblein: "Once we get done with the next 200, we have to decide where to go from there."

DETROIT -- General Motors has completed assessments of its 200 largest suppliers under a program dubbed Strategic Supplier Engagement and has begun assessing the next 200.

General Motors purchasing chief Grace Lieblein, speaking on the sidelines of a July 22 supplier conference here, said that GM was making good progress.

"For the first 200 suppliers that we've done, I've had very good feedback about being clear and transparent about our expectations," Lieblein said.

Under Strategic Supplier Engagement, launched this year, suppliers are graded on cost containment, technology sharing, open communication with GM and other factors. Those that score well will gain more access to GM purchasing executives and participate in joint strategic planning.

The top 400 suppliers account for 90 percent of GM's global purchasing. Lieblein said the company has not yet decided whether to extend the program to smaller suppliers.

"Once we get done with the next 200, we have to decide where to go from there," she said. "We have to decide whether we want to go to the next layer, and we have to decide whether to study our indirect suppliers."

Since Lieblein was named GM purchasing chief in December 2012, she has been trying to improve the company's supplier relations.

In May, the annual Henke survey of suppliers ranked GM's purchasing operation sixth out of the six major automakers in North America, behind Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group. Hyundai was not graded because of insufficient questionnaire responses from its suppliers.

Suppliers graded the automakers on a variety of factors such as communications, profit opportunities and support for the supplier's cost-cutting efforts.

You can reach David Sedgwick at

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