DETROIT - General Motors this month begins exchanging shipping schedules, notices and invoices with Tier 1 suppliers using Covisint's data messaging service, Covisint Connect.
By year end, 6,500 supplier manufacturing sites will exchange data electronically with GM's North American assembly plants.
The change required rigorous testing, says Bob Booth, GM's acting process information officer in worldwide purchasing.
"We're taking an extremely conservative approach to this, given the critical nature of communicating supplier schedules and shipping notifications," Booth says. "We've been through an extensive testing cycle with about 12 key suppliers."
By using a common messaging hub to exchange documents, automakers and suppliers no longer will have to use third-party communications networks called value-added networks.
GM suppliers have been using an EDS network.
The amount of data GM exchanges with its suppliers is staggering - 2 million messages, or documents, a month.
GM declined to reveal how much it plans to save by switching to Covisint Connect.
Other automakers are interested. DaimlerChrysler AG is evaluating the service, and Ford Motor Co. has expressed interest, says Bob Paul, CEO of Covisint, a subsidiary of Compuware Corp. in Detroit.
The data messaging service is not limited to automakers and their supply base. Johnson Controls Inc., for instance, rerouted its 1,200 suppliers to Covisint Connect this year.
Lear Corp. has moved half of its 2,000 suppliers to Covisint Connect, says Lear Chief Information Officer John Crary. The supplier began the process in April and expects to be done by October.
Johnson Controls' suppliers had been using Global eXchange Services and IBM/Advantis networks. The first step was to get those suppliers off the third-party networks, says Susan Kampe, North America vice president of information technology for Johnson Controls' Automotive Systems Group. The company's 1,200 suppliers exchange data with 77 Johnson Controls plants through Covisint Connect.