Compass Production Begins in May

Date 2006/3/14 8:05:06 | Topic: Compass

(from a DaimlerChrysler press release)

The Chrysler Group is launching a second production shift at its Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant starting today. The additional shift will double the plant's production capacity. Production of the 2007 Dodge Caliber began in January 2006, while production of the all-new 2007 Jeep(R) Compass at the plant will begin in May.

"This is fantastic news for the Chrysler Group, the UAW, our dealers, the Belvidere community and also for our customers who will get more quality Dodge and Jeep vehicles to choose from," said Belvidere Assembly Plant Manager Kurt Kavajecz. "The second shift and the plant's implementation of new workplace methods are helping us better meet customer demand."

The addition of the second shift will raise total employment at the facility from 1,650 to 2,650. All of the new jobs were filled with current Chrysler Group employees, many of whom were idled. Employees came from areas such as Newark, Del., Huntsville, Ala., Kokomo, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio. More than 360 of the employees were idled Belvidere plant employees who are now back at work.
To ramp up the second shift, new employees will work four hours on the day shift and then four hours on the night shift this week. The split shift will provide hands-on training before launching the full eight-hour afternoon shift next week.

The employees in the plant are working under a new workplace organizational model that includes a small-team based structure and new workplace practices that are designed to foster greater creativity and innovation on the plant floor. These elements will help provide a better, safer work environment and further support assembly line operators.

The Belvidere facility also was the first in the Chrysler Group's system to launch a new flexible manufacturing process which can build derivative models on a single production line in lot size of one. The new process replaces hard tooling with flexible robotics that can automatically change their own tooling to build more than one model.

The 3.7 million square foot Belvidere Assembly Plant is home to United Auto Workers Locals 1268 and 1761.

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