General Motors: The CAD - CAM - CAE Journey

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Case Details:

Case Code : OPER017
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1990 - 2002
Organization : General Motors
Pub Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India
Industry : Automobiles Manufacturing

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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By the late 1980s, automation and information technology at the shop-floor level had made manufacturing processes much simpler. With increasing competition, companies in the manufacturing industry were looking at ways to improve productivity, save time, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction. The birth of 'Computer Aided - Design, Manufacturing, and Engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE) systems helped accelerate the automation in the manufacturing industry and revolutionized many difficult fields. The term 'CAD/CAM' refers to the application of computers in manufacturing - from the drawing stage to the production, to the machine, to the assembly shop, to the quality control department and to the finished parts store...

Operations Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies


In 1996, GM initiated a program to substantially reduce its VDP time from 42 months to 24 months. In the same year, GM entered into an agreement with Unigraphics Solutions to use its CAD/CAM/CAE software Unigraphics. In 1999, GM signed a three-year with the company as a follow up to the 1996 agreement. The agreement included the endorsement of Unigraphics' Internet-centric PDM application, iMAN . The new US $ 139 million software and services contract was believed to be the world's largest collaborative engineering network...

Reaping the Benefits

GM claimed to have saved hundreds of millions of dollars with the CAD/CAM/CAE systems. The new systems allowed the company to launch innovative new cars and trucks in the market faster. The company successfully reduced its VDP time to 24 months. GM aimed at reducing the VDP time to 18 months. The company reported a 13 % improvement in engineering productivity in 1997 and expected an additional 30% improvement by 2000. According to Jay Wetzel, the CAD/CAM/CAE tools enabled the company to save costs by reducing the number of physical validation builds. Cost savings were estimated at 30% during development and 10% during validation.


Exhibit I: General Motors - Division Profile
Exhibit II: General Motors - Key Financials
Exhibit III: Comparing Traditional and New Age Product Development

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