New press increases capacity at 65-year-old Michigan facility
$63 million investment brings latest technology to stamping operation
First new press installed in 15 years
Nearly 84 million parts produced annually
Plant supports production at seven North American assembly plants
Employees participated in 2,200 hours of training to prepare for new press
FCA US celebrated the start of production of its newest stamping press during an event today at the Warren Stamping Plant (Mich.). The Company invested $63 million to bring the latest state-of-the-art stamping technology to the 65-year-old facility.
FCA North America's Vice President of Manufacturing Brian Harlow, joined by Assistant Director of the UAW Chrysler Department Troy Davis, Plant Manager Dominic Costantini, UAW Local 869 President Romaine McKinney and about 400 employees, acknowledged that it had been more than 15 years since the last press line was installed and that this investment was needed in order to keep up with demand.
"The good news is that we needed to increase our stamping capacity because FCA keeps selling more cars and trucks," said Harlow, referencing the 69 straight months of year-over-years sales increases in the U.S. and the best year of sales in the 90-year history of FCA Canada. "All of this is great for the Company, our workers and everyone associated with FCA. From the standpoint of our manufacturing operations, the new Servo Tandem line will help us meet this upsurge in demand."
The high-speed Servo Tandem Press technology (a 180-inch press line) is the first press of its kind at Warren Stamping and the only one currently in operation in the Company's North American stamping operations. Construction for the new press line began in the spring of 2014 and production launched in December 2015. The new press line will increase capacity by up to 12,000 hits per day or approximately 3.6 million parts per year. In addition to the new press, Warren Stamping also operates 12 major press lines and three large progressive press lines*, bringing total plant capacity to nearly 84 million parts annually. More than 2,000 employees work at the plant.
The new Servo Tandem Press increases the output rate, reduces complexity of the press, and improves reliability and maintainability, while also reducing energy usage. The press's servo drive allows for 100 percent programmable control and movement of the ram speed at any position in the press stroke unlike a mechanical press that operates at a fixed speed. This advanced technology also allows for maximum flexibility by allowing die changes more frequently and more quickly, in about 4 minutes as compared to 20 minutes with older presses. The Tandem Press is multiple presses in line in series, under which a single die is positioned in each press to perform an incremental function to make the stamped part.
World Class Manufacturing (WCM) principles were implemented to ensure a successful production launch, including engaging employees involved in the operation of the new press in its design and installation from the beginning. WCM is a methodology that focuses on eliminating waste, increasing productivity, and improving quality and safety in a systematic and organized way. WCM engages the workforce to provide and implement suggestions on how to improve their jobs and their plants, promoting a sense of ownership. WCM was first implemented by Fiat in 2006 and introduced to Chrysler Group as part of the alliance between the two companies in June 2009. More than 100 employees went through 2,200 hours of training at the World Class Manufacturing Academy, also in Warren, Mich., and at the plant in preparation for launch.
"Installing a new press line is always a major undertaking," said Harlow. "However, completing installation of this new press line while continuing to run the plant at peak capacity was an exceptional challenge and a tremendous accomplishment."
Harlow commended the employees for safely and successfully completing the installation while sustaining production at such a high level throughout the rest of the plant. He also acknowledged their commitment to the implementation of WCM, which resulted in the plant receiving the bronze designation in October 2014.
"You have taken an active role in implementing WCM, a system that could not succeed without your personal commitment," said Harlow. "It is because of you that Warren Stamping became the first stamping plant to achieve bronze status, which is an important WCM milestone."
A WCM bronze award is given to a plant after completing a two-day audit during which it earned a minimum of 50 points in 10 technical and 10 managerial pillars by demonstrating clear WCM know-how and competence through employee-conducted pillar presentations and a review of projects that have been implemented across the shop floor.
The Warren Stamping Plant, which has been in operation since 1949, provides parts stamped from sheet metal, including hoods, roofs, liftgates, side apertures, fenders and floor pans, for a variety of vehicles built at several of the Company's U.S., Canadian and Mexican facilities including:
- Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, Windsor Assembly Plant (Ont.)
- Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jefferson North Assembly Plant (Detroit)
- Dodge Dart, Belvidere Assembly Plant (Ill.)
- Jeep Cherokee, Toledo Assembly Complex (Ohio)
- Ram Trucks, Warren Truck Assembly Plant (Mich.)
- Chrysler 200, Sterling Heights Assembly (Mich.)
- Ram Trucks - Heavy Duty and Light Duty, Saltillo Truck (Mexico)
These parts are delivered to the assembly plants, then welded together in the body shops to form the frame of the vehicle.
Warren Stamping will also support the launch of the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which is scheduled to start production in the first quarter at the Windsor Assembly Plant.
Since June 2009, FCA US has invested over $5.3 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations to upgrade facilities and increase capacity. Of that amount, more than $1.8 billion has been spent in Michigan.
*A progressive press line is a single press with one slide in which a single die with multiple "progressive" stations produce parts at high speed from a single coil of steel directly.
About FCA US LLC
FCA US LLC is a North American automaker with a new name and a long history. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, FCA US is a member of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA) family of companies. FCA US designs, engineers, manufactures and sells vehicles under the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and FIAT brands as well as the SRT performance vehicle designation. The company also distributes the Alfa Romeo 4C model and Mopar products. FCA US is building upon the historic foundations of Chrysler, the innovative American automaker first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925; and Fiat, founded in Italy in 1899 by pioneering entrepreneurs, including Giovanni Agnelli.
FCA, the seventh-largest automaker in the world based on total annual vehicle sales, is an international automotive group. FCA is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FCAU" and on the Mercato Telematico Azionario under the symbol "FCA."