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Over the years I have toured a number of manufacturing facilities and have gleaned a little bit of knowledge and experience from each tour. The current manufacturing favorites are ‘LEAN’ and the ERP ‘Visual Manufacturing’.

In the late 80′s GM coined or borrowed the term ‘Synchronous Manufacturing’. At that time I toured a brand spanking new, JIT, Tier One facility that manufactured a complete automotive assembly that was shipped to the AMC (now Chrysler) facility in Brampton and GM Oshawa. The Plant Manager gave me a very detailed tour. The processes included; leading edge robotic welding, bar coded parts and automated assembly. The completed assemblies were packaged and carried by robot carriers and placed into waiting trucks. The trucks arrived JIT at AMC and GM to unload their cargoes so that the assemblies would be matched to specific cars that were travelling down the AMC assembly line.

The plant tour ended at the quality inspection station. I believe the quality program was the GM ‘Targets of Excellence.’ The overhead conveyor paused in front of this very tall, large woman. She visually and manually inspected each assembly which included a lever. The assembly’s lever wouldn’t budge. The Plant Manager looked at me smiled and said, “Martin, we have invested millions in this facility and have the latest technology however all is dependent on a Canadian Tire product” The Quality department lady picked up a large rubber mallet and hammered the lever with force. She put the hammer down and pulled on the lever which now moved easily.

In the 1390′s a rhyme was coined that starts and ends “For want of a nail…….a kingdom was lost”

GM is now advertising that they are ‘Reinventing Themselves’ and will be ‘The new GM’. I wonder where that mallet is.

Martin Harlick
President Applicants Inc.

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