The Big 3 and UAW must discover the flexible knowledge worker
For the Big 3 and UAW to compete globally, they must change their monolithic manufacturing methods to adaptive manufacturing like Nissan who was the only auto manufacturer to make their 08 sales projection. Why? Nissan’s newest plants are able to adapt to market change by making 2-5 models across lines and adjust based on demand, i.e. SUV to crossovers and small cars. They moved to paperless plants years ago. Second, the UAW and other unions are the second barrier to global change management at the plant. They do not allow Lean or MES/MOM technologies to be applied in any real way. 85% of American plants still run on paper-based workflows and workers are not permitted to be trained and then applied in 3+ jobs so process can flex to demand and resource commitment. Big 3 and UAW MUST create the “knowledge worker” whose pay is based on margin contribution. I work on 7 different international standards for manufacturing operations management and am an internationally recognized expert in the field. The Big 3 business model must change from one based on departmental finance metrics such labor per hour to a supply chain process based business model based on margin per unit or car. If the company makes money so does the worker. Interested? I can direct you to a number of organizations driving this change against the old paper-based guard. The plant needs to be a profit center, not a cost center. I once worked in the largest Ford plant in Canada where we installed $1MM workflow optimization system and the UAW went on strike based on “safety concern” of tracking worker performance. A similar situation occurred at a GE Aviation plant where overtime was removed by optimizing workflow so the Union striked due to tracking worker performance so then GE simply build a competitive plant in Czech Republic. Lots more examples. The Bailout will not work til Big 3 and UAW transform the 21st century manufacturing plant and worker. Worker hourly rate is no longer the issue.