Discussion in 'Other Cars' started by Mormegil, Mar 29, 2010.
I highly recommend it
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You need a better build up ~
NPR (National Public Radio) has a downloadable 15 meg MP3 (1/2 hour long) about GM's demise, and why NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.), a California joint venture between Toyota & GM, ended up as a flop ... collateral damage of GM's bankruptcy. The plant, which employed thousands, will close on (of all dates) April fool's day. This tragedy exemplifies what's happening in the U.S. auto industry. GM's 'quality' condition (which Toyota may now be experiencing), is described as systemic, infuriating, and raises questions as to whether they can be saved.
Thanks for the pointer! I haven't had time to listen yet, but for those who listen to podcasts and use iTunes, http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-american-life/id201671138 then View in iTunes should take you to it.
I've downloaded the ep.
Replying to my own reply...
Wow! It was very good. I'd "read" an audiobook about the Toyota way and production system, had heard bits and pieces about GM's ways and heard about how the workforce at that GM plant was one of GM's worst, but this podcast really hit it home for me. It's no wonder the 78, 80, and 86 GM products my parents owned were such crap.
I *HIGHLY* recommend it for all car enthusiasts or just those curious about how Japanese automakers do it. The 1st half was actually emotional for me. The 2nd half was me being in disbelief (but not incredibly surprised) by GM's squandered opportunity. As one of the people in the podcast suggested, I do think GM would've been in better shape and possibly not gone bankrupt if they adopted what they learned from Toyota earlier on.
It is really sad that NUMMI is shutting down tomorrow. I'm glad I took a tour of it a few years ago.
Examples of some of the stuff mentioned: When the plant was a GM plant, the relationship between management and labor was combative. It was almost like being in a jail. Absentees rates were very high. Workers would sometimes sabotage cars. They mentioned drugs, drinking and sex at the workplace. If you stopped the line, you'd probably be fired (totally unlike the Toyota way). All sorts of problems would slip by because they weren't supposed to stop the line and there'd be tons of cars afterward that needed to be fixed. They mentioned some cars that had the wrong fenders on them, engines put in backwards, cars wouldn't run at the end of the line due to assembly errors and had to be towed off the line to be fixed.
When the workers were rehired to work for NUMMI and went to Japan for training and worked on the line (briefly) and couldn't keep up, someone came and asked "do you want me to help?" They were blown away. They said at GM, nobody ever asked them that. They'd come and yell at you because you got behind.
They said that when they had problems, someone would come and ask the workers "what are your ideas so that this doesn't happen again?" The worker said, never in his working life (at GM) did anyone ever ask him for his ideas to solve the problem. He said that then the guy disappears and comes back with a tool as he described that's been built and tell him to try it. He had never seen this type of responsiveness before.
The experience of learning a totally different way of doing things and watching the Japanese do things so much better than they'd been doing for so many years at GM was very emotional for the workers.
I had always heard how powerful unions were at one time ... but NOW days they are NOT. Most workers are just glad to have jobs. Gone are the days where union members deliberately destroy the company's manufactured product. The only weak link to GM NOW ... MODERNLY ... the last vestage of the system that assures GM is guaranteed to fail, is the leadership. Even once NUMMI was PROVEN to be a formula to success ... what did GM do? They tossed it via bankruptcy. What did the same ol management do back in Detroit, once the NUMMI philosophy was shown to generate less defects - higher quality - lower overhead costs? NOTHING. so ... what do you do with that
The current location is at NUMMI | This American Life. Currently, you can listen to it for free if you don't mind streaming it.
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