Preparing for Post-Strike Success in Automotive Supply Chains

Preparing for Post-Strike Success in Automotive Supply Chains

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In this episode of the Auto Supply Chain Prophets podcast, Terry Onica and Jan Griffiths sit down with Bill Hurles, former executive director of supply chain for General Motors, to discuss the current challenges facing the automotive supply chain. They discuss the ongoing UAW strike against major automakers, highlighting the importance of preparing for a smooth restart once the strike concludes.

The conversation shifts to the role of technology in supply chain management, particularly the significance of electronic communication and the adoption of AI. Bill and Terry stress the importance of having up-to-date records, utilizing EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), and implementing robust supplier relationship management tools. The episode also highlighted the need to break down silos within organizations for more efficient communication and decision-making, especially during crises like strikes. They also touch on sustainability in the supply chain and how small steps within the plant environment can contribute to a greener future.

The episode wraps up with a focus on talent development and continuous learning. Bill emphasizes the importance of nurturing talent, sharing knowledge, and setting personal goals for ongoing learning and improvement. In a world of evolving supply chain challenges, Bill Hurles' insights offer valuable guidance for professionals seeking to navigate and thrive in this complex landscape.

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • Strike preparedness, crisis management, and resilience building
  • Technology integration
  • Effective communication
  • Opportunity for restart
  • Talent development and continuous learning
  • Sustainability efforts
  • Breaking down organizational silos

Featured on this episode: 

Name: Bill Hurles

Title: Former Executive Director, Supply Chain at General Motors 

About: Bill Hurles is a highly accomplished Senior Executive in Supply Chain with over 38 years of experience in the automotive industry. He has a proven track record of effectively addressing complex supply chain challenges through cross-functional collaboration and strong supplier relationships. He actively contributes to Supply Chain education and advancement through engagements with institutions like Wayne State University, AIAG, Supply Chain 50, and the Global Supply Chain Resiliency Council, where he currently serves as Executive Director. 

Connect: LinkedIn

Mentioned in this episode:

Episode Highlights:

[01:54] The current strike: The hosts set the stage by discussing the ongoing strike by the UAW against major automotive manufacturers, emphasizing the importance of addressing supply chain challenges during such crises.

[03:46] Anticipation of restart: Bill emphasizes that supply chain leaders should anticipate the restart of operations once the strike is resolved, requiring them to plan for changes in production volumes and schedules.

[06:25] Technology, Communication and EDI: Technology, especially AI, is discussed as a tool to replace manual tasks and enhance operations within supply chains. Effective communication, especially through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), is highlighted as a critical factor in supply chain management during a strike.

[06:25] Supply chain relations: Bill emphasizes strong supplier relations, paralleling them with personal relationships. He stresses robust communication as crucial for support and responsiveness, along with maintaining supply chain record integrity and timely communication to ensure stability, especially during unforeseen challenges like labor shortages.

[17:25] Breaking down silos: Jan and Bill tackle silos in the automotive industry, highlighting their drawbacks during crises. Bill emphasizes breaking them down for improved communication and decision-making. He advises effective management when fostering collaboration, cautioning against excessive input, and underscores the importance of speed for productivity and efficiency.

[20:09] Sustainability in supply chains: The discussion shifts to sustainability, where Bill underscores the responsibility of organizations to preserve resources and create cleaner environments.

[24:24] Talent development: Bill highlights the critical importance of talent in the supply chain, emphasizing the need for continuous learning, skill development, and nurturing a strong team.

[22:50] Bill’s closing advice: Bill encourages individuals and leaders to remain committed to continuous learning and development. He emphasizes setting personal goals to enhance skills and knowledge regularly and fostering open communication and shared understanding.

Top Quotes:

[04:57] Bill: “Anything you can do to better position yourself for the restart needs to be done right now.”

[10:37] Bill: “Building on that supplier relations is no different than a personal relationship. When you've got a good bond between two individuals, things move much smoother and much more flawlessly. I think all efforts have got to be to continue to improve supply relations.”

[18:50] Bill: “The better an organization can work to eliminate silos, the more efficient they're going to be, the communication is going to be better, people are going to be able to anticipate what is being done, and can then thereby react quicker.”

[24:57] Bill: “I think each individual, including the leader themselves, needs to be committed to continue to learn, things are changing fast. And you need to keep ahead.”


Delivering on the Promise of Delivery: Automotive Sustainability and Profitability

Download here

White Paper for Leveraging Risk Management in Automotive

Download here

Operational Restart Readiness

Download here

The 24 Essential Supply Chain

Download here


Keep in touch with Auto Supply Chain Prophet's co-hosts Terry Onica and Jan Griffiths on LinkedIn.


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