How GM avoided its own disaster after Japanese quake

While Toyota has been one of the automakers hardest hit by the tragic Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in March of this year, nearly every auto company on the planet felt its impact. Thanks to a global, tight-laced network of interconnected suppliers, manufacturers were left scrambling to make up gaps in the parts chain when Japan's manufacturing mechanism ground to a halt. As it turns out, General Motors took on the challenge of making sure as many of its plants stayed operational as possible by employing a team of hundreds of employees that worked around the clock.

Officially termed "Project J," the workers came up with creative solutions to manage the supply interruptions. As a result, GM says that its bottom line for 2011 won't be significantly impacted by the Japanese earthquake.

In some cases, that meant shifting parts from low-volume plants like the Shreveport, Louisiana facility responsible for the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon to other facilities. GM stressed that it didn't want to simply walk away from its old suppliers in their darkest days, so the automaker sent a team to Japan to learn how it could help get key factories back up and running. That included sourcing hydrogen peroxide and steel from Korea from two different companies.

The whole effort is incredibly impressive and worth a read if you've got the time. Check it out over at The New York Times.

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