General Motors Corp.'s Metal Fabricating Center in Flint, MI, will receive a $30 million investment to install two new high-tech presses.

The presses are faster and more flexible than traditional equipment. Flint's fastest press runs at 24 strokes a minute; the new presses will run at more than 40 strokes per minute.

Although GM refuses to provide an official timeline for the project, Ward's is told the presses should be up and running by late 2005 or early 2006. The presses are faster and more flexible than traditional equipment, and also will reduce inventory costs and improve safety.

The presses make underbody and underhood components that are used for vehicles throughout GM's lineup. To make room for the progressive presses, GM will remove some of Flint's older equipment.

The investment caps a stunning turnaround at the 49-year-old site. Flint Metal Fab's throughput was up 7% during first quarter 2003 vs. 2002 totals. Over the same time period, the plant, which makes about 2.3 million parts a month, reduced rejected parts per million by 61%.

GM's Metal Fabricating Div. chopped expenses by about $500 million since late 2001 to roughly $2.5 billion annually through structural and materials cost reductions.