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News of  April 18, 2001


Flexible Production Saves Time, Money For Shanghai GM

Buick Sail

Photo: GM

SHANGHAI - The Buick Sail is special for more than just being the first modern family car to be produced in China.

When regular production begins on Monday (April 23), the Sail will be the third distinct product to come off the same production line at Shanghai GM. It joins five models of the Buick sedan and the Buick GL8 wagon. Sail will begin appearing in Shanghai GM’s 76 showrooms across China in May.

Flexible production allows Shanghai GM to build different products on a single line without adding plant capacity. Production can be easily shifted to a different mix of models. New models can be introduced without large-scale retooling and periods of costly factory downtime.

With a flexible production process, employees may assemble all models during a single shift. Parts and materials are sequenced to the production line in the order of the cars to be assembled. Color-coding and built-in error proofing prevent incorrect parts or tools from being used.

“Flexible production has saved us time and money from day one,” said Chris Gubbey, executive vice president at Shanghai GM. “We made an initial investment in capacity and have made smaller investments along the way to vary the model line up. This increases the choice and value our customers receive.”

The Sail is proof. Only limited additional investment was made in the paint and general assembly areas. As a result, Sail is priced as low as 100,000 RMB ($12,000). It includes standard safety features such as dual airbags and antilock brakes.

A similar philosophy is used in Shanghai GM’s Powertrain shop, where the Sail’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is now in production in addition to the 2.98-liter and 2.49-liter six-cylinder engines for the larger Buicks.

“Shanghai GM is committed to bringing advanced tailor-made products to Chinese consumers,” Gubbey said. “Flexible production is one of the tools that is helping us do this.”

(April 18, 2001)

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