TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Chrysler Group's attempt to launch a new vehicle with an innovative new powertrain in a just-renovated plant is contributing to the delays in launching the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
"In Toledo, we have the perfect storm: new product, new plant, new people,
new platform. At this point, training is the key for the success of this
project," said Mauro Pino, head of World Class Manufacturing for Chrysler.
When it arrives in showrooms this fall, the Cherokee will be powered by
either of two new engines from Chrysler connected to a new nine-speed
automatic transmission licensed from ZF Friedrichshafen. In addition, the
SUV has an innovative disconnecting driveshaft developed by American Axle &
Chrysler took the unusual step of postponing a planned media drive event for
the Cherokee scheduled to begin this week in Seattle to tweak the
operational software of the Cherokee's powertrain. Chrysler originally was
scheduled to begin producing Cherokees on May 23, but production didn't
start until June 24.
The automaker has not released assembled Cherokees to dealers to make
last-minute upgrades. In the meantime, the company is adding 1,100 workers
for a second shift on its Cherokee line, currently scheduled to start Aug.
Pino said the new workers are undergoing different levels of training from
five to eight weeks, based on an individual assessment of their abilities.
'Training is key'
"At this point, training is the key for the success of this project. We are
doing more than training. We are assessing the people as they are arriving,"
Pino said. "There are guys who need five to six weeks of training, and there
are guys that need eight weeks of training."
Chrysler introduced Fiat's World Class Manufacturing system in 2009, shortly
after Fiat took over operational control of the formerly bankrupt automaker.
Similar to Toyota's manufacturing process, Fiat's system encourages worker
involvement and suggestions to eliminate waste. Twice a year, each plant is
audited and its overall score represented on a scale from 1 to 100.
Pino said the automaker received 365,000 suggestions during the last year
from its entire workforce on how to improve the way they manufacture
automobiles and components, about 70 percent of which were implemented.
The result has been a savings of several hundred million dollars, and a
dramatic reduction of both injuries and unscheduled absences, Pino said.
Chrysler is adding 15,000 square feet onto its existing 25,000-square-foot
manufacturing academy in Warren, Mich., and is expanding a satellite
training facility in Saltillo, Mexico, as well, Pino said.
Chrysler is working with some suppliers to spread portions of its
manufacturing system to other employers, Pino said. Most of that outreach is
on a plant-to-plant level "so that we are speaking the same language when we
talk to one another."
- posted 6 years ago