These kinds of comprehensive changes can't happen over night, obviously. From the end of 2013 through the summer shutdown in August, the Warren Truck plant received automation tweaks in the body shop and upgrades to the color booths in the paint shop.
However, the biggest shift was working with "UAW-represented team leaders and operators" to examine every workstation for efficiency improvements. In that analysis, the company identified and altered over 100 problems that could have caused an injury. What really helped to boost the production rate so significantly was moving about 300 parts, or grouping them into kits for better ergonomics, and eliminating walks to grab tools. Once everything was done, about 63 percent of workers at the factory got updated training.
Beyond just building more trucks, Ram is also partnering with the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, TX. During the State Fair of Texas, the automaker donated $100,000 to the organization to help "the preservation of the history of the renowned law-enforcement organization," the company said in its release.
Redesign of 353 work stations mean five more trucks an hour or an average of 100 more trucks a day roll off the assembly line
Additional capacity at the 76-year-old plant needed to meet growing demand
Implementation of World Class Manufacturing improves safety, productivity and quality
UAW-represented employees drive changes from the shop floor, submitting nearly 7,000 suggestions
September 25, 2014 , Warren, Mich. - With sales of the Ram 1500 on a 52-month sales streak, Chrysler Group's Warren Truck Assembly Plant (Mich.) is increasing production. The plant that built back-to-back Motor Trend Truck of the Year winners in 2013 and 2014 will be building an average of an additional 100 vehicles a day or 28,585 more trucks a year to keep up with demand.
The production increase meant rethinking the assembly process and implementing significant changes that began at the end of 2013 and continued through the summer shutdown this past August. From automation changes in the body shop to improvements to the color booths in the paint shop, modifications were made across the plant. But the most extensive transformation came on the assembly line.
"Building back-to-back Motor Trend Truck of the Year winners is something that has never been done before and it's something we take great pride in," said Curt Towne, Warren Truck Assembly Plant Manager. "So, as we approached this opportunity to rethink our processes, we wanted to make sure we kept our focus on the customer and doing things that would continue to improve the quality of the vehicle we deliver. I think this team accomplished that task."
A critical aspect of preparing the plant for the new run rate was the establishment of a Work Place Integration (WPI) process. As part of WPI, every operation in every workstation was reviewed, best practices evaluated and processes verified before a single vehicle was built, all while integrating the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) methodology with a focus on improving safety, logistics and quality.
The goal of WCM is to reduce waste, increase productivity, and improve 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. 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.
With the guiding principles of WCM and the use of the WPI room, Warren Truck UAW-represented team leaders and operators redesigned more than 353 work stations – or nearly all of the work stations in the assembly process; identified and corrected more than 100 issues that could cause injury; and moved nearly 300 parts to provide better ergonomics and build processes for the employees. Nearly all of the operators in assembly – about 63 percent of the plant population – were trained on the new processes, generating nearly 7,000 additional suggestions on how to improve the efficiency of the line.
As a result of the redesign carried out using the WPI process, material and parts that were once located line side are now gathered into kits or carriers, also known as limos. Two areas – the chassis frame line and the Motorhouse line – benefitted from the integration of limos and kits.
On the chassis frame line, limos attach to the truck frame as it moves down the line, positioning larger and heavier parts, like front and rear shocks, springs and lower control arms, in the optimal location – or the "Golden Zone," the area immediately in front of the operator – for installation, improving the ergonomics for the operator. Limos also reduce the time spent walking to retrieve parts or tools, enabling the team to use that savings to achieve the increased production target of five additional trucks built per hour or 100 trucks per day. The easy accessibility of parts in a kit also allows operators to focus more on the proper installation of the part, thereby improving the quality of the product.
In the Motorhouse, where the engine assembly is completed before being mated to the chassis, the Warren Truck team had to figure out a way to manage the complexity of building three different engines – the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 and the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel with over 170 unique parts and nearly 70 parts that look and feel the same, but are very different – on the same line efficiently and correctly. The answer was to kit the parts and put the kit right in the truck, which reduces waste in the form of walking, a non-value-added activity. When there are several variations in an operation, like the Motorhouse line, kitting also helps error proof the process by taking decision-making away from the operator.
"The employees actually like the kits," said Towne. "They like the fact that they don't have to walk as far to grab their parts, which is a waste. That's time that could be spent building a truck. Plus, at the end of a 10-hour day, they're not as tired as they once were."
The Warren Truck team benchmarked other facilities that incorporated kits on their engine lines, but all of the solutions implemented were designed and developed by the plant's workforce, and built and maintained by the skilled trades. What makes the Warren Truck solution unique is that the team found a way to attach the kit to the carrier without touching it by utilizing automated guided vehicles to deliver the parts to the line, something the other plants don't do.
With the issue of complexity on the line resolved, the team realized that the variation had moved to the kitting cell, the area where the parts are pulled to create the kit. To mistake-proof the cell, each engine is color coded, so the operator knows where to begin pulling the parts for that respective kit.
"The kitting and limos allow us to optimize our workers and their ability to build a vehicle with precision the same way every time," said Towne. "We think of our operators as surgeons. When a surgeon needs a scalpel, he doesn't need to look for one; he's handed one. That's exactly how we want our operators to feel, so they can focus on building a quality vehicle for our customers."
About Warren Truck Assembly Plant
Warren Truck Assembly Plant has built more than 13 million trucks since 1938, including the current Ram 1500 which won back-to-back Motor Trend Truck of the Year awards in 2013 and 2014. On Nov. 15, 2012, the Company announced it would add about 1,000 jobs on a third crew, which began on March 4, 2013. The plant currently employs more than 3,800, working four 10-hour days on two shifts six days per week. In 2013, the Warren Truck Assembly Plant built 291,554 Ram Trucks, up from 227,453 in 2012.
Ram Truck Announces Texas Rangers Partnership
Collaboration will assist Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in preserving Texas Ranger heritage and helping foster its future
September 25, 2014 , Dallas -
Ram Truck announced today at the State Fair of Texas that it will partner with the Texas Rangers, aiding the preservation of the history of the renowned law-enforcement organization.
Ram Truck Brand President and CEO Bob Hegbloom marked the event by presenting the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum with a check for $100,000.
"Ram is proud to be associated with the Texas Ranger Division and the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. Like the Texas Rangers, Ram has deep ties to the Lone Star State," said Hegbloom. "Texas Rangers are icons. They are heroes. They are recognized around the world as one of the foremost law-enforcement agencies."
Ram's support will help perpetuate and promote the heritage of the Texas Rangers via the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco.
"Ram Truck's leadership and commitment to Texas, and in particular, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum speaks to the spirit of the people behind the brand," said Chief Hank Whitman, Texas Rangers, retired - Chairman Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum Board. "The Texas Rangers are a dedicated, enduring group of rugged individuals. Ram's support is only fitting, as we see the same values in their people and the hard-working trucks they build."
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is the official historical center of the Rangers and is preparing for the Texas Ranger Bicentennial in 2023.
"The Ram Truck brand, our owners, our dealers and The Chrysler Foundation are committed to making a difference in the communities where we do business," added Hegbloom. "Texas is truck country – Ram Truck country – and today's announcement allows Ram in partnership with The Chrysler Foundation to assist the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in making a positive contribution to preserving Texas Ranger heritage and helping foster its future."
The Texas Rangers, America's oldest state law enforcement agency, are gearing up for their landmark 200th anniversary. Today's elite Rangers trace their founding to 1823. The first Rangers were minutemen and scouts protecting farms, ranches and settlements on a hostile frontier. Remarkably, Rangers have upheld the law over the span of three centuries; they are the only American lawmen to have served under five flags: Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States, Confederate Texas and the U.S. again.
The Texas Ranger is one of the most cherished symbols of the Lone Star State, a positive and enduring icon of Texas and America. Many families take immense pride in having a relative who was, or is, a Texas Ranger. Past and present ranks include Texans of Hispanic, Anglo-European, African, American Indian and Asian ancestry.
The Texas Ranger Division is a major division within the Texas Department of Public Safety with lead criminal investigative responsibility for the following: major incident crime investigations, unsolved crime/serial crime investigations, public corruption investigations, officer involved shooting investigations, and border security operations.
The Texas Ranger Division is comprised of 213 full time employees; including 150 commissioned Rangers and 63 support personnel; including administrative staff, Border Security Operations Center, Joint Operations and Intelligence Centers, and the Special Weapons and Tactics team.
ABOUT THE TEXAS RANGER HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM
The museum was established as the official historical center of the Texas Rangers in 1964.
The museum will celebrate the 50-year anniversary of its creation on Sept. 27. Since its founding, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame has grown to include: a museum, Texas Ranger company headquarters, State Hall of Fame, library and archives, an educational center serving nonprofits and a banquet facility.
Today, the site has more galleries and the land holds buildings for a variety of services: more galleries, more research, more education and community involvement among them.
An educational center not only hosts student groups (students in fourth and seventh grades in the state study Texas history), but is a place to help community organizations with training or conferences.
Efforts are underway to renovate and expand the exhibits and educational facilities of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco. The goal is to leave a Bicentennial legacy by supporting efforts of the museum to further preserve the Texas Ranger heritage for future generations.
In preparation the 200th anniversary of the Texas Rangers, the Texas Public Safety Commission has appointed the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum as their representative and steward for the Texas Ranger Bicentennial™.
Follow the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum on:
Museum website: www.texasranger.org
ABOUT THE CHRYSLER FOUNDATION
The Chrysler Foundation, the charitable arm of Chrysler Group LLC, has established a proud legacy of empowering people and investing in local communities. The Chrysler Foundation focuses its support on four key areas: Education: K-12 and post-secondary education initiatives that encourage the study and pursuit of careers in business, design, science, technology, engineering, mathematics or supply-chain management; Military: support for the nation's service members and their families in need; Multicultural / Diversity: initiatives that promote inclusion and advancement opportunities for diverse populations; and Youth Development: organizations and programs that provide mentoring and related assistance to aid youth in the transition to adulthood.
Since its inception in 1953, The Chrysler Foundation has awarded more than $500 million in charitable grants.
ABOUT THE RAM TRUCK BRAND
Since its launch as a stand-alone division of Chrysler Group LLC in 2009, the Ram Truck Brand has steadily emerged as an industry leader with one goal: to build the best pickup trucks and commercial vehicles in the industry.
Creating a distinct identity for Ram Trucks has allowed the brand to concentrate on core customers and features they find valuable. Whether focusing on a family that uses a Ram 1500 day in and day out, a hard-working Ram 3500 Heavy Duty owner or a business that depends on its Ram ProMaster commercial van every day for deliveries, Ram has the truck market covered.
In order to be the best, it takes a commitment to innovation, capability, efficiency and durability. Ram Truck invests substantially in its products, infusing them with great looks, refined interiors, durable engines and exclusive features that further enhance their capabilities.
Moving into the 2015 model year, Ram continues to beat the competition in the two most sought-after titles, fuel economy and towing capacity:
Best-in-class fuel economy with exclusive EcoDiesel - 28 mpg with Ram 1500
Best-in-class towing capability - 30,000 pounds with Ram 3500
Truck customers, from half-ton to commercial, have a demanding range of needs and require their vehicles to provide high levels of capability. Ram trucks are designed to deliver a total package.