Nearly every component in the 2011 Jeep® Grand Cherokee has been rethought, every design assumption challenged and no detail, no matter how small, left unexamined. It’s fitting that the same is true for the plant that makes it: the Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly Plant.
The nearly 3-million-square-foot assembly plant that’s been building the Jeep Grand Cherokee since it was first introduced in 1992 is among the first Chrysler Group LLC manufacturing facility to undergo a significant transformation through the World Class Manufacturing process. WCM isn’t a window-dressing acronym masking minor changes to assembling vehicles. It’s a bottom-up rethink of how the plant is organized and how its employees approach their jobs with an eye toward maximizing productivity and minimizing waste.
“WCM is designed to make our plants flexible and competitive with the best in the world,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO, Chrysler Group LLC. “At the same time, WCM also is intended to put dignity into the work place, and this is not an inconsequential thing.”
More than 1,977 projects have been implemented and 4,161 projects have started in 28 Chrysler Group plants since the program was launched last summer.
WCM doesn’t simply dictate to employees and plant managers how to organize and perform their jobs. This is an interactive process; employees are empowered to identify and correct problems they encounter – continually improving they what they do.
“Dignity at what people do is crucial,” said Marchionne. “The workplace should be a place thatyou can be proud of, that you can take your kids to and show them where you work, and that will reflect fundamental values of human self-respect.
“That’s why WCM is such an agent of change,” Marchionne continued.
The practice of WCM takes aim at eliminating what Scott Garberding, Senior Vice President and Head of Manufacturing, Chrysler Group LLC, calls “classic” waste issues. They range from overproduction to excess machine motion and surplus material. It also changes the mindset around what constitutes waste and how employees can reduce it.
“WCM involves a fundamental cultural shift in the way we approach production,” said Garberding. “It recognizes that the real success of our enterprise depends on the people in our manufacturing facilities.
“WCM intersects with reducing waste, advancing quality, increasing cost savings and improving workplace environment as well as safety,” Garberding added. “WCM differs from other programs, such as Smart Manufacturing or Lean Manufacturing, not only because WCM is far broader in scope, but also because of the ongoing measurement and tangible evaluations that are built into it.”
At the end of the day, this is ALL about building more reliable cars and trucks. WCM has proven successful across Fiat’s global manufacturing facilities, which have been managing the process for several years.
While WCM at Chrysler is still in its infancy, there already have been some tangible results in every model area where WCM has been established. JNAP is a prime example of how WCM has impacted the launch of the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
"After I got involved with the concept of WCM, I think it's a really great way of doing business. I see how management and union are working together for the same cause – to build a world-class vehicle," said Glynda Curry, JNAP Body-in-White, Model Area Team Leader. “I think with this concept of WCM, we're on the right road to a great, successful business.”
The proof of this very hard work will be in dealerships very soon.