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KAISERSLAUTERN VENTURE TO PRODUCE POWER STEERING GEARS

 KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- After an investment of over $30 million and several months of dedicated effort, Saginaw Deutschland GmbH today began producing precision rack and pinion gears and hydraulic valves for automotive power steering systems in Europe. Initial production of the power gears is scheduled for the Opel plants but the ultimate goal of the facility is to attract additional outside business.
 The partnership between Saginaw Division, part of the General Motors Automotive Components Group-Worldwide, and Adam Opel AG, currently produces front-drive axle components in Kaiserslautern for Adam Opel assembly plants.
 The Power Rack and Pinion Steering Gear hydraulically reduces steering effort at slower speeds and during parking maneuvers. It also allows for road feel at highway speeds. Current European trends indicate rapidly increasing demand for power-assisted steering over the next five years.
 The 486,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will have production capacity of over 400,000 CTO (Center Take-off) power gears annually.
 Saginaw Deutschland GmbH received approval of the project in 1991. The organization immediately began working with its partners to design a manufacturing operation built on state-of-the-art technology and people systems to produce world-class components at a competitive cost. Some of the new concepts implemented include synchronous plant layouts (equipment arranged in product-focused cells to improve quality and material flow), lean manufacturing (flexible tooling), lean organization (direct lines of communication and self-directed work groups), and use of advanced material flow concepts (Kanban cards, small lot sizes, just- in-time delivery).
 Employee involvement in the daily operations and decision-making also is a key component to the process. A group of highly motivated employees were selected by the manufacturing organization in conjunction with the Works Council. They were organized into product-focused manufacturing teams and granted responsibility for daily production as well as input concerning their work areas. The teams will operate in a climate of open communication and continuous improvement in a clean and bright working environment.
 Saginaw Deutschland GmbH was founded in 1989 as a partnership between Saginaw Division and Adam Opel AG. Saginaw Division, a U.S.- based supplier of steering and drive train systems worldwide, was looking to expand its European manufacturing presence. Adam Opel AG was interested in assuring working places for its employees. Floor space, a trained workforce and infrastructure in place were available in Adam Opel AG's Kaiserslautern plant, already producing halfshafts for its assembly plants.
 Under the partnership agreement, Saginaw provided new product technology and investment for a halfshaft inner joint and assumed responsibility for halfshaft production in the Kaiserslautern facilities, utilizing the Opel workforce.
 The new facilities will employ approximately 140 people at full capacity. Currently the workforce numbers 50 and will increase gradually as demand for the gears increases. Saginaw Deutschland GmbH has 500 men and women involved in the production of halfshafts and joints in its original Kaiserslautern facility.
 Saginaw Division is headquartered in Saginaw, Mich., and has manufacturing facilities in Saginaw, Detroit and Three Rivers, Mich.; Buffalo and Tonawanda, N.Y.; Athens, Ala.; Strasbourg, France; Cadiz, Spain; and Southampton, England, in addition to the Kaiserslautern operations. The General Motors (NYSE: GM) division employs 20,000 people worldwide, designing and producing power steering systems, adjustable, energy-absorbing steering column, and front- and rear-drive axles systems for cars and trucks.
 -0- 6/15/93
 /CONTACT: Gerry Holmes of Saginaw Division, 517-757-4005/
 (GM)


CO: Saginaw Division; General Motors Corporation; Adam Opel AG ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

DD -- DE001 -- 1957 06/15/93 08:58 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 15, 1993
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