Chrysler accelerates introductions of new transmissions and engines using digital models

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 7, 2012

In order to hasten the launch of new transmissions and engines, Chrysler Group is developing advanced three-dimensional digital models of its powertrain plants and their machines. According to global head of powertrain manufacturing Brian Harlow, Chrysler was able to save time and money as it introduces new 8-speed and 9-speed automatic transmissions in many of its models because of these digital models.

Strategic Manufacturing Solutions LLC, of suburban Detroit built these digital models. ZF Friedrichshafen AG licenses the new transmissions, which Chrysler builds at its huge transmission complex in Kokomo, Ind. The 8-speed is scheduled to start production on the 2013 Ram pickup this September.

On the other hand, the 9-speed will be launched in 2013. When interviewed at the 2012 Management Briefing Seminars, Harlow said that SMS teams made fully-integrated three-dimensional digital models of the assembly lines and machinery in Kokomo before installing them, enabling plant executives and team leaders on the floor to detect conflicts and doing the necessary adjustments to cut waste and lessen inefficiency.

Harlow is set to give further details about the process at the presentation at the annual conference. Before the digital modeling, Harlow said that engineers would utilize less-accurate two-dimensional representations in planning work flows and machine placement.

But it was only when the models were installed on the plant floor that everyone saw it all together. It would be weeks or months before they could resolve any unexpected issues that may appear like machinery conflicts or a workstation with a design that’s inefficient. [source: Automotive News - sub. required]

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