The efficiency of Chrysler Group's production system has shown a marked improvement only a year after it adopted Fiat S.p.A.'s system. Earlier this month at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Scott Garberding, Chrysler's senior vice president of manufacturing, said that in comparison with 2009, the productivity in Chrysler's assembly plants in 2010 is predicted to improve by 10%. Meanwhile, operating costs are expected to drop by 8% and injuries are anticipated to drop by 30%. He explained that the UAW cooperates in this program that involves all plant workers. Fiat's manufacturing system is actually comparable to the Toyota Production System. Teams are composed of workers who then evaluate the assembly process and identify waste.
The teams quantify the waste that is a result of a specific problem through cost deployment, a painstaking process to recognize the largest sources of waste. In some cases, this process leads to teams deciding to set aside easier, quicker changes if smaller savings are generated. The cost data also help to convince plant managers whether these more complex problems are worth repairing. The teams would then determine the root cause of the problem so that a permanent solution could be found. For example, Chrysler's Belvidere, Ill., plant had an inefficient stage on its assembly line.
Workers standing beside the car were forced to reach blindly inside the vehicle, above the door opening and along the vehicle's ceiling to assemble components. The plant made a happy chair -- a seat attached to an overhead rail that permitted workers to slide in and out of the car, facing the spot their hands had to reach. Because of this device, the plant recorded fewer assembly errors and fewer injuries. Another example would be that the plant examines less serious safety problems (and not just those that lead to serious injuries). When the near misses were studied, safety was improved. Even serious injuries were reduced.