2020 Awardee: General Motors Recognized as “Resilient Manufacturer”

General Motor's Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI On the 12th of August 2021, General Motors (GM) was awarded the Resilient Manufacturer Award at the Michigan Energy Summit. GM was recognized for its strategic management of energy consumption in its diverse portfolio whilst responding to the healthcare industry’s supply chain needs by providing much-needed PPE to Michiganders at a critical time.

The GM energy management team took creative steps among its plant directors to drive down energy use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Al Hildreth, Global Energy Manager at GM, reflects that GM needed to find deep energy savings in the facilities which remained shut down for long periods of time. Hildreth's team engaged in virtual treasure hunts, the practice of “walking through” a facility seeking energy savings opportunities. To the team’s surprise and delight, much was discovered during remote evaluations. Now that the team has observed the high impact of virtual treasure hunts they have decided to incorporate them as continued tactics post-pandemic. Tracking their daily shutdown progress with their Energy OnStar, GM was able to achieve a record of up to 90% energy reductions in their facilities. The team’s continuous commissioning efforts were so effective that GM was able to help some of its suppliers with their facilities knowledge.  

“Regarding shutting down facilities, the facilities managers had a good starting point,” reflects Ovelio Isambert, GM Principal Energy Manager. Facilities have curtailment plans in place in order to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. “Through the pandemic, the site managers took their containment plans to the next level.”

 “We made an internal competition out of it,” says Hildreth. “Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition?” Those who were able to achieve the largest energy reduction were internally recognized. The morale boost was very well received. 

With a strong culture of collaboration, the GM team is intent on inspiring peer-to-peer cross-pollination. GM leveraged two databases, the Eco Toolbox and the Roadmap Filing System, which share high-level best practices. The expansion of these databases has helped greatly to automate sufficiency planning. Isambert commented that the facilities and plant managers “took it to the next level. They learned from each other. Through the competition and sharing best practices, they got better and better.” 

General Motors accepting their award. To accompany the successes of the Energy Management team, GM as a company stepped up to the plate as a supply chain ally to the healthcare industry during a time of vulnerability for public safety.  Hildreth references a point of view among leadership, “We have manufacturing experience and supply chain resources. Let’s put these idle facilities to good use.” 

GM plants in North America galvanized to manufacture PPE, including gowns, masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer to help address nationwide shortages. A company-wide system was established for employees who wanted to volunteer to manufacture PPE. The first Detroit location started at Warren Tech Center to create masks and gowns. The charity of GM employees was exemplified by perpetually full volunteer schedules to assist in the production of PPE. In fact, scaling up the Transmission Plant just down the street was a logical next step. Michigan hospitals needed PPE desperately, and GM employees were desperate to lend a helping hand.

General Motors shined as a resilient manufacturer and supply chain ally to the healthcare industry. Thank you, GM!