In mid-September The Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, Mich.) officially launched production of the all-new 2007 Chrysler Sebring Sedan at its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. The Sebring Sedan represents the latest application of Chrysler's expanding “flexible manufacturing strategy” allowing it to bring new vehicles to market more quickly and assembly plants to manufacture multiple products on one assembly line.
The Sterling Heights Assembly Plant was extensively retooled to manage the complexity of building multiple models on one production line. The total investment of $500 million included multiple plant upgrades, improving quality, productivity and worker ergonomics; $278 million was spent to overhaul the body shop and improve the paint shop and assembly areas, including new tooling and about 620 new welding and material handling robots. The assembly plant is now able to vary production mix between three products anywhere from 0 to 100% of each model and pilot a fourth.
In addition, the plant has the capability to build multiple upper bodies and multiple car platforms, which will allow for the flexibility to add new models or "cross- load" models from other plants in order to better meet the dynamics of the market. For example, the factory has the ability to produce the Dodge Caliber should market demand require it.
The company’s flexible manufacturing strategy is being implemented product-by-product and plant-by-plant across the Chrysler Group. Additionally, Chrysler Group's workforce is reportedly becoming more flexible with the implementation of team concepts and an increased emphasis on supporting assembly line operators.
Source: The Chrysler Group.