DETROIT - Manufacturing production systems are not one-size-fits-all, and they cannot be implemented randomly.
General Motors' executive Joseph Spielman says the automaker, since 1991, has had a 'GM Manufacturing Planning Guide.' It sets out every detail of an operation before it begins.
Spielman is general manager of GM's Metal Fabricating Division manufacturing centers and worldwide facilities.
He said that in 1984, when GM began its New United Motor Manu-facturing Inc. joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. in Fremont, Calif., a 16-member team set out to glean management and technology ideas from their Japanese counterparts.
'We brought back tons of good information, and began to implement those good ideas randomly across the organization,' Spielman said. 'Looking back at those times, we really implemented pieces of the puzzle, without stepping back and understanding the total process.'
The result was less than pleasing, a hodgepodge of management initiatives without a shared goal.
By recognizing their miscues and focusing on production systems rather than individual steps, GM manufacturing leaders were able to regroup and to develop a new operating method.
'It's a given. ... We now understand all the pieces of the puzzle and how they fit together,' he said. 'This planning guide is intended to assist all of our operations in implementation of the GM Competitive Manufacturing Process. It provides a detailed common approach to planning, organizing, establishing timing, assessing needs and then implementing.'
He said GM has 'Competitive Manufacturing Implementation Teams' in each division to help plants; in addition, a group covering North American Operations augments the divisions and plants going through large projects. The team is a link to an international global manufacturing team involved in the same process.