DETROIT - General Motors engineering chief Jim Queen says GM's far-flung engineering centers are ready to work as a unified global organization that constantly shifts work back and forth.
That move, Queen says, will diminish a long-standing problem: the large fluctuations in engineering workload that occur as teams shift from intensive launches to less busy stretches of a product cycle.
"There are ebbs and flows of workload in all of our regions," says Queen, GM vice president for North American engineering. "To be able to move that stuff around 24-7 is extremely beneficial."
The move is part of GM's drive for efficiency, he says - in part to counter the cost burdens it bears from legacy costs such as pension and retiree health-care.
GM has spent several years laying the groundwork for the network, says Queen, who heads GM's global design team. The company adopted a uniform computer system that allows work to be moved easily. It also created a single product-development process using global architectures and components.
GM's engineering centers include its own major operations, such as GM North America, Adam Opel AG, Saab, Holden, Vauxhall and the GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. partnership. GM also draws on alliance partners Fiat, Suzuki, Subaru and Isuzu.