At General Motors, LEGOs aren’t just for kids, as the automaker says it’s created a three-dimensional visualization system around the colorful plastic building blocks that can track progress on pending vehicle repairs. Developed with WellStar Health System, a not-for-profit health group, the system will basically function as a visual to-do list to help GM prioritize and address potential warranty repair issues.
The process was created to improve organization and efficiency, and GM says it could reduce the time needed to implement a change by 33 percent. The visualization system will be integrated into GM’s existing Problem Resolution Tracking System, which keeps track of known problems, and prioritizes them based on severity. The new system adds a visual element with LEGO blocks that represent problems. For example, if a transmission case breaks during durability testing, a block representing that problem gets placed on a board. The color of the block corresponds to where the problem is on the vehicle, while the size of the block identifies how severe the problem is. Each block is tagged with an identification number and date of discovery, and is moved along the board until the problem is resolved.
“3D Visualization allows us to look at issues more holistically,” said Jamie Pickett, GM senior manager of current program quality, in a release. “By visually representing a problem it is easier to see the whole scope of it and where opportunities lie. And, unlike a line of data in a spread sheet, seeing a problem as a block on a board is a strong motivator for finding a solution to get it off the board.”
In addition to tracking warranty repairs, the system will be deployed to track changes and program budgets of its vehicle engineering programs worldwide. GM says this system isn’t limited to the automotive world, and that it can be applied to any process involving volume and aging. GM partner WellStar is using the system to increase efficiency in doctors’ offices and generally improve patient care across its five-hospital network. If doctors are playing with LEGOs now, we suppose there’s no shame in saying we still enjoy building things with the little bricks ourselves.