From Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Seeking to mitigate disaster costs after events such as 9/11 and last year’s blackout, Detroit automakers said Wednesday they’ll ask their suppliers and dealers to take part in a crisis management plan that will prepare them for emergencies.
The automakers, working together through a trade organization called the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), released a booklet that could serve as a guide for suppliers and dealers that either don’t have a contingency plan or want to modify an existing one.
During a luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club, safety officials from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG said the industry has lost millions because of plant accidents, natural disasters and terrorism prevention measures. While automakers all have contingency plans, they said many of their suppliers don’t.
“We do all have plans in place, but the intent of this is to roll it down to suppliers so that they can have their plans in place,” said Richard Dufour, associate administrator with GM’s global security team.
GM said that it will begin rolling out the process to all its 3,700 suppliers next week. The AIAG said the plan is voluntary for suppliers and will result in minimal costs for the companies.
Automakers want their suppliers to have a backup solution for one key reason: When suppliers can’t produce their products on time, neither can the automakers, and those disruptions hurt both sides.
“Any disruption is going to have far-reaching circumstances,” said Andrew Cummins, executive director for AIAG. “9/11 really gave us a wake-up call about how vulnerable the supply chain is.”
Suppliers seemed to embrace the guidelines Wednesday, even though many of them said they already have plans in place. The automakers said they can use the new guidelines as a benchmark to improve their own.
“We want to reduce the number of victims in any crisis,” said Gary Corrigan, a spokesman for Dana Corp. “We are trying to prevent victims from becoming victims.”
Dana, along with several other suppliers, also helped develop the guidelines. Dana said it already has a contingency plan, but it will likely be fine-tuned.
AIAG estimates that last year’s blackout cost the auto industry more than $1 billion in lost wages and production. Automakers lost production of nearly 35,000 vehicles after the blackout and more than 100,000 workers were idled.
The blackout also left some automakers with damaged goods — such as half-painted parts — that had to be scrapped.
The crisis guidelines include establishing evacuation plans and having people who are in contact with utility companies if there is a loss of power.
GM said that suppliers can take part in other programs — such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism — which would give their truck drivers special devices to help speed trucks through customs at border crossings by transmitting cargo information.
Copyright 2004 Detroit Free Press. All Rights Reserved.
Click here to view the rest of today’s headlines.