FCA has added three modern stamping presses to the Sterling Heights Stamping Plant , with a celebration today including Sergio Marchionne and the UAW’s Norwood Jewell.

Part of a $166 million investment is two new extra-large high speed servo tandem press lines (each 180 inches) and one large servo progressive press line; before these, the last new press at Sterling Stamping was installed in 2000.

2016 Sterling Heights stamping plant press

The largest stamping facility in the world, the roughly three million square foot plant will be able to produce around 82 million stampings a year now, up by around 30% from its prior 62 million.

A tandem press houses multiple presses in line in series, under which a single die is positioned in each press to perform an incremental function to make the stamped part, making die changes five times faster (around four minutes, rather than 20 minutes in older presses.)

Servo tandem presses, the first of their kind at Sterling Heights and already installed at Warren Stamping earlier this year, are more reliable and use less power, while increasing production. A rival automaker claimed some time ago that these presses also take up less space and make far less noise than traditional units.

Servo tandem presses have totally programmable control, including movement of the ram speed at any position in the press stroke; mechanical presses operate at a fixed speed.  Construction of the two lines began in May 2015.

The new servo progressive press is a single press with one slide in which a single die, with an unlimited number of operations, produces parts at a high speed from a single coil of steel. Installation began in November 2015.

Sterling stamps and sub-assembles parts from sheet metal, including hoods, roofs, liftgates, side apertures, fenders and floor pans. Parts are then used in the minivans, Durango, Grand Cherokee, Dart, Compass, patriot, Cherokee, Ram, and 200, shipped throughout the northern midwest and down to Saltillo, Mexico.

Sterling Stamping now operates 19 major press lines, three blankers (coil-fed presses that shear or trim metal coils into shapes that are stacked and used in press lines) and four large progressive press lines (press lines using a single die with multiple stations to make parts at high speed), ranging from 400 to 4,000 ton capacity. The internal sub-assembly welding shop has over 720 robots.

Sterling Stamping processes nearly a half million tons of steel and 14,000 tons of aluminum annually, runs on an alternative work schedule, and has 2,281 employees.