Fastlane

February 29, 2012

Captured Test Fleet SWAT Team – Sweating the Details

GM collects data from its captured test fleet by having drivers report their findings via the OnStar button.

By Dale Murrish
GMPT Cranktrain Analysis

Like other automakers, GM runs a vehicle captured test fleet before public release. GM collects the data in a unique way, however. Drivers push the blue OnStar button and ask for the CTF team, give the operator a weekly mileage update and details of any concerns. Located near Toronto, the CTF operators are skilled at diagnosing issues and condensing lengthy descriptions into concise explanations. Technicians read the J.D. Power survey style responses to fix issues before they get into our customers’ hands.

Drivers take their vehicles to the Service Operations garage at the GM Tech Center in Warren, Mich., to get even the smallest issue looked at. Often drivers get a phone call from the engineer working on the part in question. More serious issues usually have a team of people attacking it.

For faster response during the Chevy Sonic’s launch, GM assigned technicians to track down issues and make house calls to fix them. Examples range from extra anti-squeak compound on wiper blades, which left a residue on the windshield, to a sunroof hum which only occurs at highway speeds in undisturbed air.

The new Special Warranty Analysis Team concept was so successful that the original group of Derek Fischer, Mike Gensler, Dave Herremans, Aaron Reifert, and John Shortt has divided into two teams of five working on the Verano and Malibu launches.

The team has varied backgrounds; no formal training is needed, but it helps. Gensler, Reifert and Fischer all worked at GM dealers before coming to GM. They took GM’s Automotive Service Excellence Program at the dealerships and have two year degrees from local community colleges. Shortt is originally from Canada which fits in with the different needs of the Sonic for the Canadian market.

Fischer and Reifert were both home schooled; Fischer said it gave him more time to pursue his interests.

Discovering what you’re wired to do is important, since you’re going to be spending a lot of time doing it. Fischer’s father and grandfather were GM engineers; he knew he wanted something more hands-on, so he pursued the technician route. When asked what his dream job would be someday, he said “I’m doing it.”

That’s job satisfaction resulting in high-quality products.

Making great cars is a team sport, just like hockey. It takes talented and dedicated people to design, build, sell and service them. With people like GM’s SWAT team involved, the Sonic and other new programs are off to a better start than ever.

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