Chrysler will increase annual production of its Ram 1500 at its Warren Truck Assembly Plant with more than 28,500 additional units, which averages an extra 100 trucks a day.
To increase capacity for additional vehicles, the automaker made several changes to the plant, with the most extensive revisions made to the assembly line.
“As we approached this opportunity to rethink our processes, we wanted to make sure we kept our focus on the customer and doing things that would continue to improve the quality of the vehicle we deliver,” says Curt Towne, manager for the assembly plant.
Using the company’s global manufacturing methodology — which aims to reduce waste, increase productivity, and improve quality and safety — UAW-represented team leaders and operators redesigned nearly all of the more than 350 work stations; identified and corrected more than 100 safety issues; and moved nearly 300 parts to provide better ergonomics and build processes for the employees.
Nearly all of the operators in the assembly operation — about 63 percent of the plant population — were trained on the new processes, generating nearly 7,000 additional suggestions on how to improve the efficiency of the line.
Towne says one major change came in the form of organizing materials and parts, previously located alongside the assembly line, into kits.
On the chassis frame line, for instance, the new kits are attached to the truck frame as it moves down the line, providing easy access for operators and reducing the time they spend walking to retrieve parts or tools. In addition to saving time, operators are better able to focus on the installation of the product, thereby improving quality, Towne says.
“(The employees) like the fact that they don’t have to walk as far to grab their parts, which is a waste,” he says. “That’s time that could be spent building a truck. Plus, at the end of a 10-hour day, they’re not as tired as they once were.”