Question about General Motors Y2K : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

My extremely DGI brother is still pretty much in the "it's a moneymaking hoax perpetuated by evil consultants" camp. But yesterday he asked me if anyone had tried to roll over computers to see what happened. Sigh. Late in the game, but a glimmer of hope, I'm thinking. I told him about General Motors rolling over their computers and realizing the entire plant would have shut down. Now, way back when, before everyone got their spin control all polished up, someone very high up at GM said publicly that they would have had lots of problems - I told my brother that, but he doesn't believe it - he thinks it's just internet gossip. I can't find a link to this old quote (1997?) - can someone help me?

-- Clare Hamilton (, December 05, 1999


Look here:,180,home-0,00.html?

-- Hokie (, December 05, 1999.

Fortune link no longer works


Category: Shipping_and_Transportation Date: 1998-05-23 17:21:10 Subject: GM's Problems Updated: 100,000 Suppliers, Embedded Chips Link: Comment: General Motors has 2 billion lines of code. It has 100,000 suppliers. It has budgeted less than $600 million to fix this.

The company found out it was vulnerable only recently.

Its manufacturing system is dependent on embedded chips.

This is from FORTUNE (April 27).

* * * * * * * * *

Unfounded gloom and doom? Not if you listen to Ralph J. Szygenda, chief information officer at General Motors, whose staff is now feverishly correcting what he calls "catastrophic problems" in every GM plant. In March the automaker disclosed that it expects to spend $400 million to $550 million to fix year 2000 problems in factories as well as engineering labs and offices. . . .

So for a long time manufacturing companies snoozed, including GM. When he arrived at the automotive giant a year and a half ago to take over the CIO job, recalls Ralph Szygenda, he was amazed "that most people assumed that the factory floor didn't have year 2000 problems." Szygenda, with experience in manufacturing at Texas Instruments, didn't settle for assumptions. He shook GM out of its slumber by turning to outside companies such as Deloitte & Touche and Raytheon Engineers & Constructors, specialists in solving the problem, which sent in 91 experts to assess the automaker's situation. Supplemented by squads of GM technicians and programmers, these experts fanned out through GM's 117 facilities in 35 countries. What they found shocked even the factory-wise Szygenda.

"At each one of our factories there are catastrophic problems," says the blunt-talking executive. "Amazingly enough, machines on the factory floor are far more sensitive to incorrect dates than we ever anticipated. When we tested robotic devices for transition into the year 2000, for example, they just froze and stopped operating."

Szygenda quickly placed manufacturing facilities at the top of the list of the three "most dangerous" year 2000 areas at GM, followed by the company's supply base and the portion of businesswide software systems that supports production controls and logistic processes. Now, says Szygenda, "we're working feverishly and fast" to get the problem under control. All by itself, GM has two billion lines of software to check. The company is also retiring 1,700 obsolete computer systems.

Attacking the year 2000 problem has exposed another major area of vulnerability for GM: its 100,000 suppliers worldwide. Will all be compliant? Modern manufacturing's mastery of just-in-time parts delivery and business-to-business electronic commerce has created a beast that can bite it. Szygenda knows all too well how, on occasion, labor strife or a problem at a key supplier has shut down GM plants. "Just-in-time delivery has streamlined our supply chain to make it highly sensitive to any interruption," he says. "Production could literally stop at our plants if suppliers' computer systems are not year 2000 compliant.

He sketches the grim possibilities: "Let's say that a key sole-source supplier of brake valves shuts down as a result of a year 2000 problem. As a result, on day two, two plants that produce master brake cylinders and clutch master cylinders have to stop production because they don't have those valves. On day three, as motor vehicle assembly plants begin to run out of parts, production falls to about one-third of usual volume. By day four, all assembly plants shut down. And with no orders coming in because of the shutdown, hundreds of plants supplying parts to the assembly lines also shut down, from major engine plants to mom-and-pop subcontractors. That's the worst- case scenario--and yet it's a very real threat."

Surveying its suppliers last year, GM found plenty of cause for concern. The survey showed that awareness of the year 2000 threat was low among U.S. suppliers and even lower among those in Europe. One key global supplier didn't even know a problem existed.


-- Hokie (, December 05, 1999.

Doesn't look like trouble from here!!! Click here

-- c (s@v.m), December 05, 1999.


This Detroit News article from last year should help... Before all the spin came out in March-April 1999. I work face-to- face with the owners of manufacturing companies in MI and very few are GI's. Very few. Many supply to the automotive industry in some part of the chain.


Good Luck with your brother....

-- PJC (, December 05, 1999. - Big 3 fight 2000 bug in forced upgrade Suppliers' computers a worry to carmakers April 23, 1998 BY RACHEL KONRAD Detroit Free Press Automotive Writer Thank heavens it was a test. Only a test. When Chrysler Corp. shut down its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant last year and turned all the plant's clocks to Dec. 31, 1999, executives were expecting to find computer glitches associated with the date change from 1999 to 2000. But they weren't expecting quite so many glitches. "We got lots of surprises," said Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton. "Nobody could get out of the plant. The security system absolutely shut down and wouldn't let anybody in or out. And you obviously couldn't have paid people, because the time-clock systems didn't work." Executives at General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and thousands of parts suppliers have similar horror stories. The Year 2000 bug -- a glitch based on computer programming that reads only the last two digits of a year, so 2000 is read as 1900 -- has the potential to cripple Big Three production and delay paychecks for hundreds of thousands of employees. To avoid hassles 20 months from now, Eaton said, Chrysler will spend $55 million this year to find and fix the problems. Ford won't say how much it plans to spend this year, but analysts agree it is at least $50 million and possibly several times that. GM expects to spend $360 million to $500 million, most of it this year, to prepare its factories and offices for 2000. The largest automaker spent $44 million on Year 2000 issues in 1997. "We've got ...hundreds of people -- possibly thousands -- working on this," said John Ahearne of GM Information Systems and Services. "In a way, everyone has to be part and parcel of this, if only for 10 minutes. Someone typing on a machine is going to have to deal with whether the word processor or computer will work in the year 2000. This problem touches everything and everyone." Tedious work While Detroit's automakers mobilize resources, no one has come up with an easy solution: Programmers must debug systems one by one. GM alone must review more than 2 billion lines of code, which operate office computers and up to 500,000 computerized, factory-floor devices that could crash Dec. 31, 1999. But the Big Three are confident they will enter the new millennium smoothly. GM, Ford and Chrysler plan to finish debugging by the end of 1998. They'll spend 1999 fine tuning. Their big worry concerns suppliers -- the more than 40,000 companies with 70,000 factories and offices around the world responsible for wheels, seats, robots, grommets, computer chips and millions of other parts needed for vehicles. GM alone has identified more than 40,000 sites worldwide that could disrupt production or administrative flow. The largest suppliers -- Lear Corp., Johnson Controls Inc., Delphi Automotive Systems and a handful of others -- are in good shape. Many have taken responsibility for cascading Year 2000 advice through the tiers of smaller suppliers below them. Small suppliers -- those with revenue less than $100 million a year -- generally aren't progressing as swiftly. Constantly under pressure to slash costs, some of them can't afford to exterminate bugs. "I have a feeling there are a lot of people out there who still -- even with all the publicity -- really don't know if and how they'll be impacted," said Marc Santucci, automotive analyst at ELM International in East Lansing. "There are a number of suppliers out there who won't do anything until the problem hits them on the head." Supplier dependency That scares the automakers, who cannot legally swoop in and debug software that doesn't belong to them. The automakers are dependent on suppliers to bring parts to the assembly lines, but suppliers generally are independent businesses that are not under the direct control of the car companies. So a small firm cranking out plastic fasteners has the potential to slow or halt assembly lines if it can't ship after Jan. 1, 2000. "We're pretty sure our first tier will work," Chrysler President Thomas Stallkamp said of his company's largest suppliers. "It's the second and third and fourth tier who supply not just our industry but others. As you get further down the food chain, you've got a guy making widgets for us as well as for Boeing and Maytag, and those guys are the ones we're worried about." To combat glitches anticipated from deep within the supply chain, automakers have toll-free phone lines and on-site workshops for suppliers to get Year 2000 advice. In October, the Big Three and the Automotive Industry Action Group launched a task force to provide on- line tips, a database and self-assessment survey ( Workers at 50,000 factories and offices are participating. But what happens in December 1999 if the automakers identify critical suppliers who haven't debugged their systems? No one knows for sure. "We're looking at contingency plans and possible swat teams to go in and help out suppliers at the last minute," said George Surdu, program manager for Ford's global Year 2000 project. "At the end of the day, though, the ultimate responsibility is the supplier's." Rock Tool & Machine Inc. of Plymouth is spending $10,000 to fix its glitches. The company, which designs robots that build transmissions and other parts, has upgraded its Electronic Data Interchange software -- the program that lets suppliers and automakers communicate about what parts they need and when they need them. Rock Tool has also installed 2000-friendly Windows software for some of its equipment monitoring systems. "The biggest thing that could go wrong is that the date processing information will be incorrect," said Rock Vice President Glenn Simms. "That would not affect distribution, but it could certainly interfere with things." Asia lags behind A big worry for the Big Three, who have relied increasingly on foreign suppliers in low-cost markets, is whether Asia is prepared for 2000. Japan has been in a deep recession for five years or more, and debugging has been a relatively low priority. Throughout Southeast Asia, continuing financial crises might set up a Year 2000 catastrophe that could affect operations ranging from Big Three wire harness making in the Philippines to new assembly lines in Thailand and China. Another headache for the Big Three and other companies: The bug can strike long before Jan. 1, 2000. If a company's planning horizon is 18 months, for example, the company's software could go haywire in July. But the glitch isn't all bad. It's forcing outdated companies to modernize. Several automotive companies say the bug forced them to sift through files and discard old software. "I'm hard-pressed to find a lot of goodness in the Year 2000 issue in terms of shareholder value," Ford's Surdu said. "But we're replacing some aging systems, and now we have a very detailed inventory -- the most in my 22 years at Ford ...We know exactly what we have, what languages it's written in and which machines it operates on. We can use that information for good reasons unrelated to the Year 2000."

-- wacko (, December 05, 1999.

The article that I mentioned in case the e-mail doesn't work...

-- PJC (, December 05, 1999.

Tell him back in Feb that close to 20 top GM excutives sold all there stock options worth millions. Then ask him if he thinks thats a confedince move...---...

-- Les (, December 05, 1999.

Okay, GM and all other domestic manufacturers are going to be compliant and all of there domestic suppliers. How about Nissan thats been bleeding red ink for several years. Fiat just bought a percentage of Nissan but if they aren't prepared like GM & Ford that could push Nissan over the edge. That PLUS the superyen and they won't be able to make a profit by exporting to the U.S. the number 1 consumer of automobiles. How can the Japanese stock market be so optimistic? I understand Japan is behind the Y2k times but I haven't heard much about Japan, NUMBER TWO behind the U.S. in manufacturing.

-- Guy Daley (, December 05, 1999.

Than you for re-reminding me of several details.

Ever notice that NOTHING the fed's have been saying covers industry and manufactoring? The entire federal y2k propaganda effort ignores it.....

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, December 06, 1999.

Insider info. Click here

-- vb (a@s.m), December 06, 1999.

So, Sir vb of the inside, what does "options" mean - did they buy, get, or are trading?

Need to look at that whole table very carefully - to look at the dates of the buys vs the sells - the attitude early this year was very different that now.....sells (now) are more important in judging an impact than sells early this year.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, December 06, 1999.

Well thanks so much! I sent him the Detroit Free Press article - but I'm sure he'll denigrate it because it's old - forgetting that his original questions was what happens when they test a rollover...about that insider trading stuff - is there any way to determine how normal that activity is? I mean, it looks like a helluva lot of money from the higher ups, but I've got nothing to compare it to.

-- Clare Hamilton (, December 06, 1999.

If you want current info, check out Koskinen's comments on embedded systems, the NIST report, the ComputerWorld story "not yet done" all in the past few days, all on the recent answers page. <:)=

-- Sysman (, December 06, 1999.

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