By BridgeNews General Motors Corp. tipped its hat to its suppliers as a major reason for improvements in J.D. Power and Harbour studies. During an auto industry conference in Traverse City, Mich., last week, Bo Andersson, executive in charge of GM worldwide purchasing, said overall quality improved by 50%. General Motors made strides in productivity improvement, according to the 2001 Harbour Report, which tracks manufacturers' efficiency. The automaker also is gaining in quality, according to J.D. Powers and Associates. GM tracks more than 3,000 suppliers with 5,500 locations in six quality metrics, including spills, discrepant parts, and downtimes. In 2000, quality improved by 50%, Andersson said. "We improved by 50% last year, so another 50% this year would really be quite an accomplishment," he said. He suggested that the automaker is on track to do so. And GM values the suppliers that perform well. So far in 2001, the automaker awarded its suppliers with new business comprised of $651 million in the chemical area, $835 million in electric, and $1 billion in metallic. That's $2.5 billion in future business for the 165 suppliers GM considers its best. "If you have good suppliers, it makes sense to take care of them first," he said. Tools such as GM SupplyPower help the automaker to track quality. GM gets information in real time through the Web site, he said. "GM SupplyPower, our portal for two-way communication with suppliers, is a good example of collaboration."