Phase Eight

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2002-11-01 Print this article Print

Milestones along General Motors' route to becoming the first all-digital automaker.

Phase Eight
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That highlights the weakest point in General Motors' new strategy: While working in electrons helps GM and its suppliers collaborate at an unprecedented level, and speeds products through development, the products are only as good as their components. And networked work is only as good as its weakest link.

That's what led Terry Kline, GM's CIO for engineering, to hold his breath in early September.

When a telephone company backhoe cut through a fiber cable not far from the automotive giant's Network Operations Center in the basement of the old Fisher Body plant in Warren, most of the icons on the center's screens turned red.

The center monitors the ability of GM's engineers to work around the world, around the clock. The fiber cut meant the engineers and their collaborators at outside suppliers could not access the programs they needed to quite simply do their jobs, together.

The temporary solution: re-route all the engineers' requests through an engineering facility in Shanghai, China. Within approximately four hours, the cable was repaired; and the icons started turning green again. Kline started breathing easier.

Because if GM is going to hit its plan to use digital processes to release a new model of automobile somewhere in the world every 25 days, as Scott postulates, downtime is not permissible.


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