General Motors wins prestigious 2005 Informs Edelman Award


Innovation saves company over $2 billion

General Motor's innovative approach to problem-solving has won the 2005 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences. The Edelman Prize, the culmination of a rigorous competition that recognizes innovation, is sought after by operations researchers and planners around the world and is presented annually by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®).

GM won for its entry entitled "Increasing Production Throughput at General Motors." Using operations research to achieve one of its signature benefits -- greater efficiency -- GM has saved over $2 billion through improved productivity at 30 assembly plants in 10 countries. The savings have been realized using novel, state-of-the-art algorithms and modeling systems developed for estimating throughput performance, identifying bottlenecks, and buffer allocation, coupled with improved, global deployment of data collection and performance improvement processes.

In accepting the award, GM Vice President for Research & Development and Planning, Larry Burns stated: "General Motors is delighted to receive the Franz Edelman Award for our work on increasing production throughput. This accomplishment highlights the importance of Operations Research to industry. It is a result of outstanding collaboration between GM's manufacturing operations and research and development activities and is instrumental to how GM plans, designs and operates its highly efficient global production system".

GM's internally developed simulation tool, and its throughput improvement process, have had a measurable financial impact on the company's bottom line and its ability to compete in an increasingly, hyper-competitive automotive industry by improving productivity by 25 percent over the last six years. According to Gary Cowger, GM group vice president global manufacturing and labor, "We've come a long way as a company and are now widely recognized for the productivity improvements we've achieved and the standards we're setting. Combined with GM's Global Manufacturing System and other initiatives, these tools have unquestionably been a key enabler of such outstanding improvements."

The Edelman Award recognizes outstanding implemented operations research that has had a significant, positive impact on the performance of a client organization. The top finalist receives a $10,000 first prize. The finalists in the Edelman competition also included the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, Eli Lilly¸ Nanzan Educational Complex, Procter & Gamble, and Swift & Co.

Last year, Motorola, along with its collaborator Emptoris, was recognized for achieving increased productivity and reduced costs at the electronics manufacturer. Previous winners include Continental Airlines, Sabre Decision Technologies, and Merrill Lynch.

The 2005 competition was held at an INFORMS conference, "Applying Science to the Art of Business," which took place at The Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs, California from April 17-19. The finalist papers will be published in the January, 2006 issue of the INFORMS publication Interfaces. Recent Edelman finalists can be viewed at

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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