GM has revamped its factory computers to avoid interrupting production

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 27, 2010

To eliminate the risk of computer glitches disrupting production, General Motors Co. has revamped its factory computers, wiring and automation in all of its plants worldwide.

Kirk Gutmann, GM's chief strategy and technology officer, said that when it standardized globally on a common plant-floor IT architecture, the company was able to cut production stoppages caused by computer bugs by 95% in a time span of more than five years.

Gutmann said that the reduction is measured by the lost minutes of production, but he declined to explain further. But earlier this month, Gurmann announced that he is set to depart from GM on June 15. No reasons were given.

In the last five years, GM has worked with IT systems partner Cisco Systems Inc. to use common IT processes for all 186 plants worldwide and to equip the plants in a standard format.

He said that GM's standardization of plant-floor IT began in North America and spread throughout Europe and Asia. He also said that troubleshooting the plants is easy since they have a common architecture of hardware, software and wiring.

The refit of plant IT was included in a broader effort to standardize manufacturing processes worldwide to improve quality and to hurry up the tooling changeovers for new models.

He also said that GM has saved about $75 million over the past five years when it avoided IT-caused production stoppages. Gutmann added that GM was also able to avoid an additional $65 million for labor and engineering costs by not being required to design multiple systems in various plants.

Topics: gm, factory, production

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