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Frank J. Ewasyshyn, EVP Manufacturing

Frank Ewasyshyn was Executive Vice President of Manufacturing from 2004 onwards, responsible for all assembly, stamping, and powertrain manufacturing operations worldwide. He oversaw the management and operation of all plants to ensure that the company was building quality cars on time. He spent his entire professional life working for Chrysler, starting as a Maintenance Foreman in 1976.

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In 1986 and 1987, Frank was the Production Manager at two Chrysler assembly plants. From 1988 to 1991 he was the Director of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering and, in 1991, became the General Manager of Large and Small Car Platform Assembly, a position he held until October 1994 when he became the Vice President of Advance Manufacturing Engineering. Ewasyshyn saw the Neon from its very early days through to production; his manufacturing background may have helped him to slash production costs while producing a car with better acceleration, space, gas mileage, and cornering.

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At the time of the Neon's introduction, when he was General Manager of Large Car and Small Car Assembly Operations, Frank Ewasyshyn said:

Employees influenced the design of the setting fixture right from the beginning. They changed the handles, changed the sequence, changed almost everything in the early stages. [Once a tool is set and handed to the operator, Ewosyshyn said, the operator isn't likely to offer any input, other than if it doesn't work.]

This time, they were part of the development group. They're part of the actual development activity and, in the end, it really is their tool. They have ownership, which makes a big difference. ...

In the past, the instrument panel tooling, for example, would be developed somewhere in the engineer group. It would be built and the first time the operator would see it would be the day he or she showed up on the job to use the tool. This time the employees were port of the development process. They worked with the right from the beginning. They helped us in determining the best place for the suppliers [missing] handles, what the handles should look like, how fast the tool should move, whether or not they should be motorized. We used their inputs extensively.

Employees weren't always sure where we were coming from. But once they got into the process and began to influence and change the car they realized we were really serious.

That's been demonstrated in the plant already and you can see it clearly in the enthusiasm of the work force. It really is their process ... their car. They had a lot of input, we paid a lot of attention to it. That really is a big product advantage.
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One key to the smooth launch of the Neon and the lack of manufacturing defects in most Neons (the key issues were design or parts flaws) was the simulated factory created in advance, to find problems before production was started. The "Checkerboard Square" facility was set up in the pilot-build stage, before all machines and equipment were in place. "This way the tools and materials could be positioned at the optimal distances from the assembly line," explained Frank Ewasyshyn. "Each work station was simulated - even stock and parts were then put in place."

"When it came time to reproduce that in the plant (once the machinery was in place), all they had to do was count squares. They didn't have to measure anything. That's why it's called ‘Checkerboard Square.'"

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The system was being used even while workers on the active line still were assembling the Dodge Dynasty and Chrysler New Yorker and Imperial. "We'd just take people off the line, take them to ‘Checkerboard Square' and have them perform their operations as if they were building the Neon," said John Felice, Belvidere plant manager.

"Traditionally, vehicle height has not been a consideration in the build sequence," said Ewasyshyn. "But we found that when you get involved very early in the build, you can influence the sequence by the way the car goes together. So, if you rearrange your work patterns to keep all the common work heights together, you achieve two things. You reduce investment because you're not changing conveyor heights repeatedly as the car moves down the line and, secondly, it improves the operator's ergonomics."

In 1997, when Frank Ewasyshyn was VP of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, the company commonized body architecture of the mid-sized Dakota and the big Ram. The Dakota used the same production line as the Ram and was built using similar processes, with only the size of the components differing. This helped bring the new 1997 Dakota, a milestone vehicle, to production within 30 months for less than $500 million.

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Frank Ewasyshyn said, "We knew, for instance, that the cab construction on the Dodge Ram was world class. So we took the construction concepts and structure from the Ram cab, reduced it to fit the dimensional requirements of the Dakota, and then worked with the designers and engineers to come up with a new cab for the Dakota. This produced a common design and a common manufacturing process for Ram and Dakota. ...Lessons learned from the Dodge Ram allowed us to reduce complexity at the plant and dramatically reduce the development time for Dakota."

CATIA also came to the fore under Ewasyshyn. "Refining and verifying processes first on the CATIA systems and later through the pilot plants made the launch that much more predictable, both of which helped us reduce complexity, improve quality and enhance productivity."

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For the launch of the original, much-praised Dodge Durango, Ewasyshyn said:

The launch of the Dodge Durango demonstrates a substantial increase in the power of the Platform Team approach to vehicle development. In order to achieve the common goal of producing a world-class sport-utility vehicle, we pulled all manufacturing functions to the very beginning of the concept development phase. In addition, process engineers have been working side-by-side with the people at our Newark Assembly Plant since the very beginning of the program. Traditionally, engineers in Auburn Hills designed a vehicle's build process, and left it to the people at the plant to implement, slowing vehicle development time and increasing cost.
A new paint shop design was launched under his management, with higher transfer efficiency (more paint applied to vehicles, with less waste and less paintover spray and cleaning needed). The new paint process marked a 35% reduction in VOC emissions from topcoats, and a 40% reduction in VOC emissions from non-production operations; waste could be captured for industrial use. "The new paint shop will serve as the model design for all subsequent new paint shops throughout the Corporation," said Ewasyshyn at the time. "Because it was designed using our computer-aided technology (CATIA), it's transferable to other sites. Eventually, all Chrysler assembly facilities will be equipped with lead-free E-coat primers."

In 1998, Ewasyshyn oversaw the use of Control Program Generation and Analysis (C.P.G.A.), which replaced the lengthy programming of control code to operate each workcell on the plant floor. "The C.P.G.A. technology will reduce the time it takes to program a typical workcell by thousands of hours, shave two to four months off the development time of passenger vehicles and save upwards of $20 million per assembly plant," said Ewasyshyn. "The system will also more readily identify and eliminate process variation in the build process for better vehicle quality, and improve communication among manufacturing, engineering and supplier personnel."

In September 1999, Ewasyshyn became the Senior Vice President of Advance Manufacturing Engineering and, finally, in May 2004, was made Executive Vice President of Manufacturing.

In 2007, Chrysler quoted Frank Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President of Manufacturing as saying, "We are seeing a great deal of success at the Sterling Heights facility due to the commitment of our plant employees. Their willingness to support and foster a small-team workplace model has delivered a successful second-vehicle launch."

With the launch of the Patriot, build interchangeably on one line with the Caliber and Compass, Ewasyshyn said, "Thanks to Belvidere's ability to build multiple models off one assembly line, we expect the production of three all-new models to cost significantly less than the initial investment we made in the plant to build one product."

Ewasyshyn earned four degrees from the University of Windsor (Ontario). He gained a bachelor's degree in 1974; he followed it quickly with a Masters in Electrical Engineering in 1976. A decade later he returned for an M.B.A., and in 2001, was awarded an honorary doctorate. Ewasyshyn was, as of 2009, a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineering Society of Detroit, Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers, and the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, Canada.

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