General Motors: The CAD - CAM - CAE Journey


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Case Details:

Case Code : OPER017
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1990 - 2002
Organization : General Motors
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India
Industry : Automobiles Manufacturing

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Introduction Contd...

Hughes Electronics Corp., GM Locomotive Group and Allison Transmission Division were GM's major subsidiaries.

To facilitate growth across the world, GM had strategic alliances with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp., Fiat Auto SpA and Isuzu Motors Ltd.

It also had vehicle ventures with Toyota Motor Corp. and Renault SA, and technical collaborations with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.. GM managed to build a huge loyal customer base over the decades and went from strength to strength, retaining its world leader crown (Refer Exhibit II for GM's financials).

GM's Manufacturing Inefficiencies

The first cars manufactured were constructed individually and a single person assembled all the parts together. However, with the advent of the conveyor-belt based assembly line technique in 1913-14 (at a Ford plant), car manufacturing became much more efficient.

Under this technique, a car moved along a belt as it was being built. Instead of all workers working on a single car, they added parts to the car as it moved along the belt. This made the manufacturing process faster and cheaper.

GM also adopted the assembly line technique. The company had 160 plants across the world and more than 300,000 employees. The manufacturing process was categorized into powertrain1, metal fabrication and assembly (Refer Table II). However, GM's cost of production in terms of time and labor was more than any other automakers in the world.

The company's internal problems had reportedly resulted in the longest vehicle development process times, slow response to market trends and 'dull products.' Toyota's (Japan) time-to-market was twice that of GM throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Ford Motor Co., which was half of GM in size, was believed to be much more productive (Refer Figure I)...

Excerpts >>

1] Also called a drivetrain, this term describes all of a vehicle's components that produce power and transmit power to the wheels - the engine, transmission, transfer case, driveshafts, differentials, axle shafts and wheel hubs.

 

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