GM adeptly navigated Japan crisis with adaptive supply chain model  General Motors surprised analysts with its first quarter earnings, reporting a $3.2 billion in revenue. According to a recently published report, GM has adeptly adjusted its supply chain in the aftermath of the Japanese crisis, impressing analysts.

The New York Times reports that GM, which has battled back from the brink of destruction to reemerge as a major global player, has suffered less from supplier disruptions than Japanese automakers. According to the news service, American and European carmakers have mostly passed the difficult period following the crisis, while Japan-based auto manufacturers are still in the throes of the crisis.

GM spends only 2 percent of its parts-buying budget in Japan. Further, of the 118 components it said it needed to monitor for shortages, it has resolved problems with all but five. GM chief executive Daniel F. Akerson also said last week the crisis was unlikely to seriously impact the company's earnings moving forward - a vast departure from the immediate aftermath of the natural disaster.

"It was pretty tense," Akerson said of the period directly following the March 11 events.

Though GM has contingency plans in case of manufacturing disruptions of supply delays, the extent of the damage in Japan was unlike anything the company had prepared for, said GM vice chairman Stephen J. Girsky.

Dubbed "Project J," GM engineers and executives worked in the weeks following the events to secure alternate suppliers and overhaul the company's supply chain strategy. GM briefly idled two manufacturing facilities to conserve auto parts, but found alternative suppliers quickly enough to keep a majority of its production plants running.

Nonetheless, some issues still plague the company, including a dearth of semiconductors and other electronics that are for the most part manufactured in Japan only.

"We still have issues," GM's vice president for global purchasing and supply chain, Robert E. Socia told the Times. "The issues we have now are getting tougher to solve.'

Still, by extensively monitoring their suppliers and the status of their supply chain, GM officials were able to adeptly tweak their manufacturing practices when necessary. Ultimately, GM was able to help its suppliers resume production quickly instead of hunting for new manufacturers, which saved the company valuable time and money.

"Our objective was to help the suppliers get back into production, not to re-source the parts somewhere else," GM executive director of engineering Ronald Mills said in an interview. "We like the parts we had." 
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