OPINION

GM invests in pre-production, Metro Detroit

Betty J. Romsek

If you drive in Metro Detroit, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a camouflaged vehicle or two.

While the secrecy behind the camouflage is primarily to keep vehicles under wraps until they are officially revealed to customers and media, these vehicles serve a greater purpose: They help ensure that when in production, customers get a vehicle that is of the highest quality, durability and reliability.

That’s why General Motors has announced a $139.5-million investment at our Pre-Production Operations at GM’s Technical Center in Warren. This is part of a larger, recently announced $5.4-billion investment to modernize GM’s manufacturing operations in the United States, including $520 million for tooling and equipment for future vehicle programs at Lansing Delta Township assembly and $124 million for new stamping equipment and upgrades at the Pontiac Metal Center.

At PPO, the investment will help us do a very important job even better. PPO is responsible for building the first, fully functioning versions of new and next-generation vehicles. PPO employees, who are represented by UAW Local 160, troubleshoot the product build and production processes before any vehicles are built for our customers.

They work with product engineering and manufacturing teams to ensure each vehicle is manufactured at the highest quality. We have five PPO facilities around the world, building 2,500 vehicles a year.

The majority of the investment we’re announcing will add 164,000 square feet to our PPO body shop in Warren. This allows us to add equipment to support future technology innovations for aluminum and steel vehicle body assemblies. Among its many benefits, aluminum is lighter and therefore helps improve fuel efficiency.

For example, the body for the upcoming Cadillac CT6 consists of 13 metals and alloys, and is 64 percent aluminum. Earlier this year, the PPO team and workers from Detroit-Hamtramck, which will build the CT6, worked to perfect the industry’s most comprehensive and advanced techniques in mixed-material manufacturing because this represents the future of the industry.

PPO and Detroit-Hamtramck team members identified and resolved issues long before production, which will boost quality and productivity and get new products to customers more quickly.

That is what drives us at PPO and GM, and it’s why this investment is so important. Every vehicle we make and every interaction with our customers must be fueled by the desire to deliver excellence. Anything less is just not acceptable.

Betty J. Romsek is executive director of General Motors’ global pre-production operations.