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GM Continues Overall Improvement in Annual Harbour Report on Productivity

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General Motors Corp. improved overall productivity, despite an 8 percent production volume decrease last year, according to "The Harbour Report North America 2008." The Harbour Report measures North American automotive manufacturers' assembly, powertrain and stamping plant productivity.

GM is the only manufacturer to consistently improve year-over-year overall in the history of the annual report. The company's Toledo, Ohio, transmission plant was the most productive transmission plant in North America for the second year in a row, at 2.37 hours per transmission.

Additionally, three of GM's assembly plants, five of its engine plants and two stamping plants were ranked in the top 10 in productivity in their respective categories. GM improved its overall manufacturing productivity slightly by 0.2 percent over last year.

Gary Cowger, GM group vice president of Global Manufacturing and Labor Relations, maintains that GM's Global Manufacturing System (GMS) has helped GM sustain its year-over-year overall productivity improvements by helping the company build vehicles more efficiently.

"For GM to have taken out volume and launched several new products last year and still show a positive overall productivity improvement, speaks very strongly for GMS and the entire North American team, including union leadership, management and our employees," said Cowger. "GM has consistently improved productivity, and is the only manufacturer to show year-over-year improvements for the last 15 years of the Harbour study."

GM's efficiency gains have also been fueled by the company's continued improvements in product quality.

"GM's productivity improvements are also directly tied to our commitment to capture industry leadership in quality," added Cowger. "Building higher quality products allow our manufacturing operations to run more efficiently by eliminating all forms of waste."

In the recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, GM accomplished a 9 percent year-over-year improvement, outpacing the industry while achieving its best PPH (problems per hundred) levels ever. The company won three segments: Chevrolet Malibu (Midsize Car), Pontiac Grand Prix (Large Car), Chevrolet Silverado LD Classic (Large Pickup), and its Fairfax, Kan. assembly plant received the Bronze plant award.

"What's interesting is that this year we continue to see improvement among all companies despite the fact that there have been dramatic changes in the environment in which they operate -- significant volume losses particularly in segments such as full-size trucks and SUVs," said Ron Harbour, Managing Partner of Oliver Wyman's North American Automotive Practice. "The fact that GM has continued consistent improvement says a lot toward what the company has done in terms of implementing GMS and the maturation of that process."

"We are pleased that UAW-GM assembly facilities scored higher than Toyota assembly facilities, and our Toledo transmission plant was number one for the second year in a row," said UAW vice president Cal Rapson. "But it's clear that all manufacturers are upping their game and we need to focus on improvements to stay in front."

Some of GM's productivity highlights in the Harbour Report include:

  • At 32.29 total labor hours per vehicle (including assembly, stamping, engine and transmission manufacturing), GM improved its overall manufacturing productivity slightly by 0.2 percent.
  • GM has the top transmission plant in North America.
  • Toledo, Ohio, ranked #1 at 2.37 hours per transmission.
  • GM has three of the top 10 assembly plants in North America.
  • Oshawa #1, Ontario, ranked #2 at 15.18 hours per vehicle.
  • Oshawa #2, Ontario, ranked #3 at 16.17 hours per vehicle.
  • Lordstown, Ohio, ranked #7 at 18.12 hours per vehicle.
  • GM vehicle assembly plants led in 11 of 20 North American assembly plant segments in which it competes--the most of any manufacturer:
  • Oshawa #2, Ontario (Grand Prix, Lacrosse) ranked first in the Midsize-Non-Premium Conventional Segment
  • Lansing Grand River, Mich. (STS) ranked first in the Midsize-Premium Conventional Segment
  • Oshawa #1, Ontario (Monte Carlo) ranked first in the Midsize-Non-Premium Sports Car Segment
  • Bowling Green, Tenn. (Corvette, XLR) ranked first in the Midsize-Premium Sports Car Segment
  • Doraville, Ga. (Montana SV6, Relay, Terraza, Uplander) ranked first in the  Midsize-Non-Premium Van Segment
  • Moraine, Ohio (9-7X) ranked first in the Midsize-Premium Utility Segment
  • Oshawa #1, Ontario (Impala) ranked first in the Large-Non-Premium Conventional Segment
  • Detroit-Hamtramck, Mich. (DTS) ranked first in the Large-Premium Conventional Segment
  • Arlington, Texas (Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon) ranked first in the Large-Non-Premium Utility Segment
  • Arlington, Texas (Escalade, Escalade ESV) ranked first in the Large-Premium Utility Segment
  • GM has two of the top ten stamping plants in North America, based on the Stamping Index.
  • Silao, Mexico, ranked #5.
  • Parma, Ohio, ranked #9.
  • GM has five of the top 10 engine plants in North America.
  • Spring Hill, Tenn., ranked #2 at 2.53 hours per engine.
  • Flint South, Mich., ranked #5 at 3.07 hours per engine.
  • Flint North, Mich., ranked #6 at 3.09 hours per engine.
  • Tonawanda, New York, ranked #7 at 3.19 hours per engine.
  • Romulus, Mich., ranked #10 at 3.46 hours per engine.
  • GM led in three engine segments--up one from last year.
  • St. Catharines, Ontario, ranked #1 in 8 cylinder overhead valve.
  • Flint North, Mich., ranked #1 in 6 cylinder overhead valve.
  • Flint South, Mich., ranked #1 in 6 cylinder overhead cam.

GM also continues to improve productivity in other areas of its business. Carlisle & Company, which benchmarks warehousing facilities on a number of metrics, recently recognized 15 of GM's Service and Parts Operations (SPO) facilities in the top quintile (20 percent) of warehouses in North America for significant improvements in productivity. GM SPO Vancouver, Canada, was named Most Productive Warehouse in North America out of over 200 parts warehouses and 31 OEMs. And, GM SPO's Denver Parts Distribution Center (PDC) was in the number one Most Improved Warehouse Award, with six other GM SPO facilities in the top 10.

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GM Continues Overall Improvement in Annual Harbour Report on Productivity
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