GM Revamps Manufacturing Systems for the Volt

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Sometimes the better part of valor is to just start over again.

General Motors appears to be taking that approach when it comes to setting up the manufacturing systems for its battery assembly operations for the new Chevrolet Volt that is due out in 2011.

As a car that sports a plug-in battery, the manufacture and assembly of those batteries is a fairly important component of the entire project. Previously, GM had a set of manufacturing systems optimized and customized for each manufacturing plant.

But with the design of the Volt, GM took the opportunity to adopt FlexNet manufacturing operations management software from Apriso to help manage not only the plant, but all the facilities tied to the plant.



Implemented by Hewlett-Packard, the basic idea is to give GM a unified view of all the manufacturing operations tied to the production of the Chevrolet Volt, said Sam Phillips, HP Enterprise Services business manager for the GM account.

Like most U.S. automobile makers, GM is trying to reinvent itself from within. But that approach can easily be applied to any number of manufacturing disciplines where untold numbers of companies are not as competitive on a global basis as they once were. Obviously, better IT systems are not the only issue at hand when it comes to global competition. But if you can't see what you're really doing in the first place, it's kind of hard to assume that you're doing it the best way possible.