Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chrysler says warranty costs fall 29%

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Chrysler LLC is seeing the fruits of improvements in manufacturing quality and productivity, manufacturing chief Frank Ewasyshyn said here today at the Management Briefing Seminars.

Chrysler, which tied Toyota this year as North America's most-efficient vehicle manufacturer, has reduced its year-over-year warranty costs by 29 percent, Ewasyshyn said.

Before Daimler AG sold Chrysler to Cerberus last year, the combined DaimlerChrysler had the highest warranty costs among the six major North American manufacturers.

Ewasyshyn said Chrysler has started customer satisfaction teams within the past year to follow model launches and troubleshoot problems. The multi-disciplinary teams are comprised of 6 to 15 engineers, technicians, quality professionals and others.

Ewasyshyn said standard processes and flexible manufacturing have helped turn Chrysler into an industry leader in manufacturing efficiency.

Since 2001 Chrysler has reduced the manhours needed to assemble a vehicle 31.4 percent from 44.28 hours to 30.37 hours.

Chrysler placed four assembly plants in North America's top ten, including industry leader the Toledo Supplier Park. The plant, which makes Jeep Wranglers, uses three key suppliers to help build the vehicles. Kuka runs the body shop, Magna Steyr paints the bodies and Hyundai Mobis builds the chassis for final assembly.

Ewasyshyn said workers in the plants are key to the improvements. Chrysler has developed a "Smart" process to seek their input. During the launch of the new Chrysler minivans in Windsor, Ontario, workers raised more than 6,000 "issues" to help make the retooling and launch go more smoothly, he said.

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