Chrysler opens training center to use Fiat’s methods in North American plants

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 26, 2012

Chrysler Group has built the World Class Manufacturing Academy, a 25,000-square-foot training center in suburban Detroit, for an undisclosed amount. This center will use Fiat S.p.A.’s manufacturing method to enhance the quality in North American plants. The center was constructed in the Technology Training Center that’s jointly operated by the UAW and the automaker.

Shortly after Chrysler exited bankruptcy in 2009, it had adopted Fiat’s award-winning manufacturing system. This system is based on the principle of getting rid of waste of any sort.

It depends on the line workers’ input to find ways to improve the plants and the jobs. Chrysler officials said that so far, more than 20,000 suggestions have been given by Chrysler workers, majority of which are already being used. The system depends on regular audits that assign a two digit score to the efficiency of a plant. These audits include plant output along with worker and plant safety, product quality, plant waste, and job interactions.

A score of at least 50 is considered bronze, 60 is silver, 70 is gold, and 85 is world class. Scott Garberding, Chrysler’s head of manufacturing, said that the only way to improve is to “build skills” and that this would be place to accomplish that. Chrysler’s manufacturing and assembly plants are racing to achieve bronze status this year.

Plant level officials, Chrysler Group’s plants in Windsor, Ont., Toledo, Ohio, Dundee, Mich., and Belvidere, Ill., are approaching the bronze level. If they do reach that level this year, it means that they achieved this in just over half the time it took their European counterparts. Some of these plants already had single-digit W.C.M. scores during their initial audits in 2009.

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