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GM AND NATIONAL LABORATORIES: 'TEAMING FOR NATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS'

 GM AND NATIONAL LABORATORIES: 'TEAMING FOR NATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS'
 WARREN, Mich., Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- General Motors (NYSE: GM) will team with America's National Laboratories to develop technology that will help U.S. industry win the worldwide competitive battle it now faces.
 At the first such conference of its kind between an automaker and some of the nation's top federal laboratories this week at GM's Technical Center, Donald L. Runkle, vice president for GM's Advanced Engineering Staff, told the assembly of engineers and scientists that it's time for U.S. industry to take advantage of America's great technical resource, the National Laboratory System.
 "Only by making America's manufacturing productivity and product competitiveness better than anyone else's in the world can we increase our standard of living and our national security," said Runkle. "We must rearm our industrial base to win the contest that will ultimately determine the future economic growth of our country. We must get American products and processes on a higher plane."
 Runkle said, "This conference and others like it are yet another step in playing and winning the new economic game -- that is, improving the productivity and competitiveness of American industry."
 Runkle said that we must now pull together the best minds in industry and government to develop the manufacturing processes and product technologies that will allow American industries to turn the contest in our favor. "That is where the National Laboratories come in," he said.
 "What some of us envision is something along the lines of John F. Kennedy's challenge to America to put a man on the moon," Runkle said. "It was an extraordinary, high-risk proposition, one that required an equally extraordinary degree of cooperation between government and industry.
 "This time the challenge is not to explore outer space, but to win a competitive battle and ensure our nation's future prosperity."
 Runkle cited recently established consortia such as the ones dealing with advanced batteries for electric cars and advanced composites as examples of government-industry cooperation on future technology. "These are important initiatives," he said. "But the size, complexity and importance of this industry will demand much more."
 He said the cooperative effort should look at six key areas -- energy, environment, safety, agile manufacturing, manufacturing validation and ultrareliability. "Leading in these six areas is good for America's entire industrial base," Runkle said.
 Automakers are all looking for ways to improve their products in the first three areas -- energy, safety and the environment. These areas are product-oriented and directly affect society as a whole. Making products that use less of our precious resources, are safer and more environmentally friendly will put U.S. products on a higher competitive plane, according to Runkle.
 The next three are process-oriented and will help all U.S. industry become more competitive. Agile manufacturing is an area in which the National Labs can help industry become more flexible to address the changing marketplace. "Flexibility is the key to competitiveness, along with bringing products forward more quickly and for less cost," said Runkle.
 Runkle said that manufacturing validation should be another important effort. "Few manufacturers in the world validate their manufacturing processes before going into production," he said. "We need the National Labs to help American industry develop the knowledge required to validate our plants and processes before we specify and build them."
 The last category is what Runkle called "ultrareliability." "The auto industry is committed to providing high-quality, reliable cars and trucks, and we've been making great progress in this category," said Runkle. "Our ultimate goal is to have manufacturing processes that are reliable and building products that are problem-free." He praised the National Labs for their success in this area and asked them to help the auto industry attain the same levels of reliability at affordable prices.
 In closing, Runkle asked the engineers and scientists assembled from the National Labs to join with their counterparts in industry to help America regain its technology edge. "We must join together as a nation, pulling together our strengths to win the global competition," he asserted. "Together, we have the intelligence, experience and technological expertise to reach our goals."
 -0- 1/23/92
 /CONTACT: Dave Sloan of General Motors, 313-986-5721/
 (GM) CO: General Motors Corporation ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:


JG -- DE012 -- 2811 01/23/92 12:34 EST
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Date:Jan 23, 1992
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