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story by David Van Buren • photos by Marc Rozman and David Van Buren
The assembly plant has publicly posted metrics for a huge variety of operations, color-coded in a simple green, yellow, and red scheme so anyone can see where the factory is doing well and where it is lagging. At this point, close to the start of production and implementation of the “new-old” management system, many items were flagged as red, but there were some green areas.
The checking fixture shown above is a JR model. Parts attachment points are machined exactly by a CNC machine; the rest of the fixture doesn't need to be in any particular shape, so it conforms roughly to the Sebring, except where parts fit in. The checking fixture is used to determine whether parts fitment issues are caused by the parts themselves or by other factors, and can quickly end a dispute with a supplier over who is at fault.
The company appears to be monitoring defect rates, rework or scrap rates, and productivity — though there was more evidence of quality metrics than quantity metrics, a positive sign. Chrysler is clearly and openly benchmarking the Toyota Camry and Volvo C70 convertible for quality, and appears to have made rapid gains at Sterling Heights in the past year. The stated goal two years ago was to be 20% better than average on Consumer Reports surveys (half-filled red dot); it now appears to be achieving a solid red dot, the highest rating, and equivalent to 45% better than average. Internal benchmarks for the Sebring show it having had both better and worse than average reliability over the last four years.
Metrics are even posted publicly for parts supplied by other companies; a large dimensional validation chart (not reproduced here to protect Chrysler’s internal processes) showed how well interior parts suppliers were doing. Grand Rapids Plastics, incidentally, seems to have been doing quite well; Faurecia, not so much. Under the new system, and, indeed, under the pre-Daimler system, suppliers are brought in for site visits when problems persist, for joint troubleshooting. (This was also the practice at the dawn of Chrysler’s history, under Carl Breer.)
Above: bodies just out of the paint shop on the first part of the assembly line. The broadcast sheet and trunk liner are just about the only things on the cars. (For a closeup of the broadcast sheet, see the cars page.)
Below: plant workers were separately gathered together for a town hall meeting during the press presentation.
Racks of Trenton Engine’s Pentastar V6 engines ready to go.
Go to the
Sterling Heights main plant page
or to the
2010 Chrysler 200 / Dodge Avenger launch home page
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