The new third generation Chevrolet Utility is built to General Motors exacting quality standards. The global vehicle maker has set itself the target of being the best in terms of quality in each and every vehicle segment that it competes in globally by the end of 2012. The Chevrolet Utility is the first locally manufactured model from General Motors South Africa designed and built around this requirement.
Behind this quality drive is the adoption of General Motors global best practice in manufacturing together with an extensive training regime on the new product. “The end goal is to work towards theoretical ‘zero defect’ manufacturing,” says GMSA Quality Manager, Andy Alexander.
“This requires built-in quality on the line and here we are measured against the quality element of General Motors’ global manufacturing process. Within that process there are five levels of built-in quality each one aimed at achieving a higher level in confidence in build quality with a lower quality verification rate rather than specifying any absolute quality level. At the lowest level for instance, there would be a requirement for 100% quality inspection. In all cases the goal remains the achievement of segment leading quality standards.
“We go into production of the new Chevrolet Utility with the plant at level III, a significant achievement for an all new model in the early production phase. As experience with production grows it is a realistic expectation that the built-in quality level will be improved with a goal of reaching the top level.
“The responsibility for in plant quality rests with a dedicated team reporting to the quality manager. An important indicator of overall quality for us is the initial acceptance of the vehicle by our customers, usually monitored by the initial quality surveys compiled by research organisations such as JD Power and Synovate.
“To gauge this initial quality we place a number of vehicles in what we call a Captured Test Fleet, using company staff who evaluate vehicles in the pre-launch phase to provide us with feedback on quality issues. We have also started following GM’s global lead by inviting comment directly from these research organisations in the pre-launch phase to assist us in identifying potential customer issues ahead of model introduction based on their store of knowledge of issues commonly reported to them.
“The quality drive at GM doesn’t only revolve around built-in quality. It extends to identifying and resolving quality issues in the field as well and here we have a dedicated team charged with monitoring and investigating quality issues as and when they become apparent in the market place. The first trigger of a quality issue will likely be a warranty issue that will be flagged in the Global Warranty System but we also have a comprehensive system to monitor issues that present at dealer workshop level.
“By adopting this pro-active stance we are able to get very quick feedback on real quality issues and place those in the system for rectification at manufacturing level. With a locally manufactured vehicle like the Chevrolet Utility information from the field would be routed to Aftersales, Quality, Supply Quality, Product Engineering and Manufacturing divisions for a resolution either in house or in consultation with the relative component supplier where the fault lies, with a view to correction. Where issues are encountered with imported units the feedback is reported back to source plants all over the globe for their attention and correction.”
“We are proud of the level of initial quality achieved with the new Chevrolet Utility as it enters the market place. We were set a target of compliance with global quality standards and our product fully stands up to the inspection and audit processes that are a part of that compliance.”