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General Motors: Gravati Automotive Complex


General Motors do Brazil (GMB) -inaugurated an innovative and unique manufacturing complex in Gravatai, Brazil designed to be among the most lean and cost-efficient in the world.


Chevrolet Celta, built in Gravati

The Complex's inaugural ceremony was attended by Mr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, President of Brazil; Mr. Olivio Dutra, Governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul; John F. Smith Jr., Chairman of General Motors; as well as other GM executives, suppliers and guests from around the globe.

THe Blue Macaw plant in Gravati
For larger view click image

"The assembly complex we are dedicating today is much more than just another new plant: It is a major step forward in the way automobiles are built," said Mr. Smith. He added, "Engineers, economists, business leaders, and reporters from around the world will be watching closely what we do here at Gravatai. They will be studying it, they will be learning from it, and they will be adapting it to their own operations."

The Gravatai Automotive Complex entails two main concepts: an extremely lean and efficient vehicle production system and a newly-built industrial site referred to as an "industrial condominium."

General Motors and sixteen world-class suppliers joined forces and shared a wealth of global experiences to create an extremely efficient automotive complex that functions as one single plant. Best practices from GM plant projects from around the world, as well as seventy-five years of creative manufacturing in Brazil, were studied in devising the Gravatai model.

At Gravatai, the traditional component development cycle was replaced by a codevelopment process between GM and its system suppliers. The new process optimizes costs and quality through supplier participation up-front in the development of the vehicle. Suppliers' system modules are incorporated into a production system that considers advanced sourcing and logistics, the use of state-of-the-art technology, and creative management of human resources.

The most notably different element of production is that the GM vehicle assembly plant receives pre-assembled modules delivered just-in-time by neighboring suppliers that share space at strategic entry locations to the production line. Every element of the Complex was designed for increased efficiency, including the physical location of each player in the process.

"We designed the layout with careful consideration of where each supplier and employee would be located so that everyone stays at the exact spot of their product application in the assembly line," said Roberto Tinoco, director of manufacturing operations, Gravatai Complex.

Among the advantages enabled by the Gravatai production model are increased speed by shortening routes, low inventories, the reduction of bottlenecks, quick correction of problems, lower costs, and most importantly, the ability to build a high-quality, competitively priced small car, the Chevrolet Celta.

GMB's partners in the Gravatai complex are:

  • Arteb (lighting systems)

  • Arvin (exhaust systems)

  • Bosal (tool kits)

  • Delphi (front/rear suspension and rear axle)

  • FMS (mounting elements)

  • Goodyear (wheels and tires)

  • Inylbra (carpeting and insulation)

  • IPA (fuel tank)

  • Lear (seats, roof lining and door trim)

  • Pelzer (plastic-injected parts) 

  • Polyprom (small stampings) 

  • Sogefi (air cleaner)

  • Santa Marina (window glass)

  • TI Bundy (hydraulic brake and fuel lines)

  • Valeo (cooling systems)

  • VDO (instrument panel)

Zamprogna, a manufacturer of blanks, or steel sheets cut to the exact size for stamping, is located near but not inside the complex.

The GMB supplier team that makes up the Gravatai Automotive Industrial Complex represents 60% fewer suppliers and 50% fewer parts that would be necessary in a traditional manufacturing system. Behind Gravatai A forward-thinking team, born into a lean and efficient culture

Gravatai's lean and efficient culture is the result of a human resource vision shared and pursued by both GM and suppliers. Both parties were aware that to fuel Gravatai's unique production model, the team behind it needed to be assembled and trained as creatively as the emergence of the complex itself.

More than 10,000 people interviewed for the initial 1200 positions available at GM. Traditional interviews combined with more progressive evaluation techniques including situation analysis and group dynamics were used to select the individuals that could give life to Gravatai. Candidates were made aware early on in the process that they would be recruited for the same Gravatai team, but they would follow HR policies of the company extending an employment offer.

An extended training period ensured that each individual became proficient in all key areas of the working network, including health and safety. Over 450 hours of training have been completed by each man and woman of the Gravatai Complex, some reaching as much as 1000 hours of training.

Gravatai, an Environmentally Sound Community

Gravatai was designed as an environmentally sound industrial community. Water, air and general health and safety issues were studied to protect the community both inside and outside the complex, in accordance with GM's environmental principles and local regulations.

Furthermore, about 5,380,000 sq. feet of land was designated as an environmental reserve, in coordination with the state of Rio Grande do Sul's Botanical Zoo Foundation. Native plant species and fig trees, the tree-symbol of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, are being planted to create the indigenous flora of the region as it existed centuries ago. Careful consideration is being granted to the environmental needs of animal species living in the area. GM do Brazil , established in 1929, is comprised of manufacturing complexes at Sao Caetano do Sul, San Jose dos Campos, Mogi das Cruces and Gravatai: two parts distribution centers at Sorocaba and Mogi das Cruces; a Proving Ground at Indaiatuba, administrative offices at several locations and Banco General Motors in Sao Paolo. The company markets vehicles under the Chevrolet and GMC brands.

Location: Gravatai, 29km from Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul
Terrain Size: 3,960,000 sq. meters or 386 hectares
Construction size: 2% of terrain. GM plant, 80,000sq. meters
Supplier plants: 75,000sq. meters
Environmental Reserve: 500,000 sq. meters of natural flora and fauna.
Investment Costs: Around US$600 million, including GM, suppliers and government investment
GM Plant Description: A T-shaped grouping of the following sections comprise the automotive plant:

Stamping Plant, Body Shop (90% automated), Paint Shop, General Assembly Plant, Quality Control Area, Testing Ground, Shipping Area, Administrative Offices

Across the street from the automotive plant lie the facilities of 16 suppliers within the Gravatai complex.
Vehicles Produced: Chevrolet Celta
Production Capacity: 120,000 vehicles per year. Two work shifts per day
Employees: At full production capacity, potential of approximately 4,000 employees between GM and suppliers
Community Services: Bank agencies, mail offices, travel agencies, medical center, drugstore, restaurants, fast food outlets, training center, barber shop.


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