Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Chrysler celebrates production launch at Windsor Assembly Plant

January 21, 2011
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

The new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country are now in production at the automaker’s Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP). Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, government officials, CAW leadership and employees recently celebrated the launch of the vehicles’ production, and all of the hard work that went into revitalizing the assembly plant.
"The new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country remain key parts of our revival plan," Marchionne told more than 1,200 employees in the audience. "Our collective future is dependent on the success of this plant and these vehicles."

In preparation for the launch of the new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, the company has invested more than $1.4 billion US since 2008 for assembly, stamping, material handling and tooling, as well as improvements to the Windsor paint shop. Windsor is currently the only Chrysler Group assembly plant that operates on three shifts with more than 4,400 employees.

"This is a proud day for Chrysler Group and the CAW as it launches two new minivans, thereby preserving good manufacturing jobs in Canada," said Ken Lewenza, president, CAW.

To prepare for the production of these vehicles, employees at WAP began transforming the facility as part of World Class Manufacturing (WCM), an extensive and thorough process to restore all facilities to their original and maximum functionality.

The rollout of WCM began with putting more than 4,300 employees through over 30,000 hours of training focused on the principles of WCM and how to identify and attack waste and losses on the line. As a result, employees have become more engaged with their work and submitted more than 30,000 suggestions on how to improve the processes at the plant. In fact, more than 3,000 employees at WAP have been involved in suggestions and continuous improvement activities in 2010.

Additionally, WCM has helped eliminate unsafe conditions, with a 52 percent reduction in injury frequencies.
Another area of significant improvement has been the area of autonomous maintenance. Workers take responsibility for cleaning and inspection of equipment in order to eliminate breakdowns. In the body shop, this has resulted in running over one year without a breakdown due to lack of basic conditions.

In the paint shop, employees restored the 12-year-old robotic sealer application equipment to its original condition. The team then benchmarked an idea from Fiat to incorporate clear plastic coverings to catch small sealer drips to prevent the critical parts of the equipment from getting dirty and thereby avoiding future breakdowns. 

In total, the implementation of WCM resulted in plant savings of more than $46 million in 2010.

Chrysler Canada reported a sales increase of 26 percent in 2010, achieving the highest year-over-year sales growth in Chrysler Canada history, and its 13th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. As a result, Chrysler Canada gained two percentage points of share – more than any other manufacturer – increasing its market share to 13 percent.

Production at the Windsor Assembly Plant also rose 62 percent last year and overall, Chrysler’s Canadian production rose 51 percent, making it the number two manufacturer in the country in 2010.

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