Ford Motor Co. opens a new Total Cost Management Center (TCM) in Dearborn, MI, to allow suppliers to work more closely with the automaker on product design and in ferreting out waste throughout the supply chain. Experts estimate 30% of vehicle and component production constitutes waste. Some 150 suppliers attended last Friday's opening.

Ford first created TCM in 1987 as a way to assess its value-added activities, and since 1993 the operation has been located in nearby Livonia. The company decided a larger facility was necessary, one with conference rooms (28, including six with videoconferencing), allowing supplier and Ford representatives to analyze product and cost issues, and one with a garage, allowing vehicles to be hoisted up for a closer look underneath.

The operation also has a Lean Resource Center, a multi-media library available to Ford suppliers, and a Supplier Learning Institute, a training academy with courses offered in topics such as design-to-cost and product benchmarking. The center also will conduct commodity reviews to lower the cost of a commodity across several vehicle lines and across markets in current and future programs.