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Chrysler celebrates 200, Avenger launch

by David Zatz on

Chrysler celebrated an $850 million investment in the Sterling Heights plan and production of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger at a factory event today. Allpar will have more photos and details in a later report.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte, UAW Chrysler Department head General Holiefield, and other local officials joined employees and reporters at the event.

The $850 million investment includes the construction of a 425,000-square-foot paint shop, and the installation of new machinery, tooling and material-handling equipment. A portion of the total amount will be invested in the local stamping plants in Warren and Sterling Heights.

Moving away from Daimler production systems resulted in many improvements, including an 83% reduction in failures in the body-in-white Left Hand Aperture stations, by restoring the equipment to basic conditions. With thorough cleaning and inspection activities, a similar result was achieved in the transfer station in the paint shop, improving throughput by 71%.

SHAP had experienced some surface defects originating in the paint shop color booths. A team leader analyzed, identified, and resolved what had been a chronic quality problem, virtually eliminating it.

From the bottom up, the workforce at SHAP has been generating hundreds of suggestions on how to further improve the manufacturing processes to ensure the highest quality vehicles roll off the assembly line. One suggestion involved the rebuilding of a weld gun pivot, which saved $5,000 per gun with an overall savings to date of more than $45,000. Team leaders have also generated more than 715 suggestions for improvement, which have helped SHAP achieve the lowest three-month in-service warranty scores in the company.

“The employees have adopted the right mindset toward the implementation of WCM and are striving to reduce waste in everything they do,” said Tyree Minner, SHAP Plant Manager. “As a result of their participation in this process, the team at SHAP has saved more than $10 million year-to-date and we are on track to exceed our total year-end goal.”

The Sterling Heights Assembly Plant was built in 1953 as a jet engine plant and was operated by the Army as the Michigan Ordinance Missile Plant with Chrysler serving as contractor building Redstone and Jupiter missiles. It was converted to an automobile plant in 1980 by Volkswagen and purchased by Chrysler Corporation in 1983.

Production of Chrysler LeBaron GTS and Dodge Lancer began in September 1984. Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance production began in 1985, and Dodge Daytona production began in 1991. Production of the 2001 Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedans began in the fall of 2000, followed by the Chrysler Sebring Convertible.


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