Smart Manufacturing / Changing Workforce / Industrial Safety / Materials Handling / Supply Chain Management

GM deploys DHL contractors in 17 China plants to manage materials handling

By Norihiko Shirouzu, for Reuters

Jan 17, 2018

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The DHL employees work side-by-side with GM workers handling the flow of parts within the plant, which builds about 400,000 Baojun brand vehicles a year and is owned jointly by GM, Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp, and Guangxi Automobile Group.

DHL assembles thousands of kits of parts daily in a strategy to avoid assembly errors, and reduce costs. At some GM-run final assembly plants in China, seats are unloaded from delivery trucks, put on a conveyer system that runs underneath an assembly line, and are delivered to the assembly line operator untouched by human hands.

Some parts are delivered by small self-guided robots that would be at home on the set of a “Star Wars” movie.

GM is now deploying third-party logistics contractors inside all 17 of its joint-venture general assembly plants in China to transport materials, and manage parts warehousing outside the plant and delivery to the plant, a senior GM executive told Reuters.

Outsourcing in-plant material handling jobs, traditionally done by GM workers, allows the automaker’s workforce to focus on the more critical work of improving quality and efficiency, GM China’s manufacturing chief Paul Buetow said.

GM has not previously shared details of its strategy for using DHL and other contractors in its Chinese joint-venture factories. Early on in developing its Chinese manufacturing, GM used relatively simple manufacturing systems, relying more on cheap labor than advanced technology.

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