General Motors invests US$100mn into US manufacturing plant
“Demand for our Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups continues to be very strong and we are taking action to increase the availability of our trucks for our dealers and customers,” said Phil Kienle, GM vice president, North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations. “We appreciate the commitment and hard work our teams display every day at work in Romulus and Bedford, and these investments reflect the importance of their efforts.”
Romulus, Michigan propulsion plant
Of the US$100mn, US$93mn will be invested into its Romulus, Michigan propulsion plant, adding machining capabilities to the plant.
GM’s Romulus plant currently builds V-6 engines and 10-speed transmissions, it originally opened in the 1970s as part of its Detroit Diesel Allison Division making diesel engines and components.
Since the 1980s when it began producing engines, the plant has produced more than 10.8mn V-8 engines and more than 6.6mn V-6 engines.
Bedford, Indiana casting operation
The remaining US$7mn will be invested into its Bedford, Indiana casting operations to increase its die casting capabilities.
Located in south central Indiana, Bedford Casting Operations is a leading aluminum die casting facility and produces transmission casings, converter housings, heads, and small gas engine blocks.
Both investments made by GM will support the increased production of its 10-speed automatic transmissions used in its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, with work beginning immediately at both sites.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.