Volume 9, Issue 5 - October 2007

Off the Line
oem news from detroit

GM to Outsource Glass?
Despite a report from Ward’s Automotive in its June 2007 issue that General Motors Corp. is considering outsourcing its windshield production from Asian manufacturers, Deborah Silverman, manager of GM global purchasing and supply chain communications, says the auto manufacturer is reviewing a number of factors surrounding this possibility.

“At GM, we purchase commodities on a best total-landed cost basis,” she says. “That means we look at the total cost of delivering a part to the manufacturing site, including logistics. When evaluating the cost of purchasing windshields from Asia, logistics becomes an important factor, but remains just one factor in evaluating the total landed cost.” 

Silverman said she could not comment on what suppliers the company might utilize, should it make the move to Asian suppliers. 

“For competitive reasons, we don’t disclose the specifics of which suppliers we are considering for future business,” she says. 

As for possible cost savings, she notes that this would be determined by a number of factors.

“[The question of cost savings] is difficult to answer given all of the dynamics that go into our sourcing decisions,” Silverman says. “Regarding windshields, while Chinese manufacturers, for example, are about 10 percent below North American suppliers, the U.S. supply base in automotive glass is becoming more competitive.”

Location also comes into play.

“Remember, we source for GM’s manufacturing facilities around the world, so we are sourcing both for domestic operations in countries where we build cars and trucks as well as for export, when it makes sense,” she says. “Our first priority is to source for domestic production. It’s not as simple as sourcing from Asia for North American production.” 

While the outsourcing of windshields currently is only a consideration, Silverman adds that the company also is looking at outsourcing a number of other products from Asia.

“Asia is a good source for a number of vehicle components, but specifically electronics and emblems/decals (sun visors, door handles, etc.),” she says. 

PPG and iGlass Collaborate on Dimmable Automotive Sunroofs
Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries and iGlass Projects Pty. Ltd. of Australia have have signed an agreement to develop and commercialize dimmable glazing for automotive sunroofs.

The glazing comprises iGlass polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) switchable thin film, that offers rapid light transmission switching and optical clarity, sandwiched between two plies of special PPG glass. 

“This new glass product offers drivers the capability to switch electrically from a clear transparent view to an opaque surface, providing privacy and sun protection to occupants and objects within the vehicle,” says Dick Heilman, PPG strategic marketing director for automotive glass. “By combining the iGlass switchable film with Sungate or GL-20 solar control glass by PPG, we have created an attractive product for the automotive market.”

PPG will market the glass for sunroof applications in new vehicles as well as the aftermarket, but it also can be used in glazing areas such as rear quarter-windows or rear truck windows, Heilman says.

“We are very excited about working with PPG to introduce this technology to the automotive sunroof market,” says Johnny Pak, chief executive officer, iGlass. “We have already had success with thin film use for switchable architectural glass products, in commercial and residential windows as well as interior room partition walls, and we look forward to expanding its applications.” www.ppg.com or www.iglass.biz 


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