Chrysler plant in Indiana earns Shingo Silver Medallion

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: lean manufacturing

Chrysler LLC's Indiana Transmission Plant II (ITP II), located in Kokomo, Ind., has been awarded the 2008-2009 Shingo Silver Medallion for operational excellence.


The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence, established in 1988, recognizes business excellence in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The philosophy of the Shingo Prize is that world-class performance for quality, cost and delivery can be achieved through lean principles and techniques in core manufacturing and business processes.


"We were all impressed with ITP II's grasp of lean principles and tools, and the ability to identify and develop improvements while motivating the workforce," the Shingo committee said in informing the ITP II management and staff of the award.


"We applaud the ITP II team and their great strides in the implementation of lean practices and productivity improvement."


The Shingo team noted that "the cumulative result of the continuous improvement activity at ITP II has been to remain competitive in a significant downturn in the market."


The Shingo awards, recognized as one of the highest honors in manufacturing, will be officially presented during the 21st annual Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence Conference in Nashville, Tenn., May 3-5, 2009.


"On behalf of the ITP II team and all of Chrysler manufacturing, we are pleased and proud to be recognized by the Shingo committee," said Frank J. Ewasyshyn, executive vice president for manufacturing, Chrysler LLC.


Ewasyshyn cited the efforts of two members of his team for building support and enthusiasm for developing principles of lean manufacturing throughout the organization: Fred Goedtel, vice president for powertrain, and Brian Harlow, general manager for transmissions/casting/machining/axle.


"This award is further evidence that we are succeeding in our company-wide programs to make lean manufacturing and continuous improvement cornerstones of the way we do business every day," said Goedtel.


Said Harlow: "In today's highly competitive environment, we can never get complacent, never let up in our efforts to find new ways to do things better and more efficiently."


Opened in 2003, ITP II produces the W5A580 five-speed transmission that is used in the Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Liberty and Commander, and Dodge Nitro, Challenger and Charger.


Kevin Hayes, Plant Manager of ITP II, credited the employees' involvement in Smart manufacturing and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) in producing the results that were recognized by the Shingo evaluation team.


"It is the employees' involvement in the process that made us stand out," Hayes said. "They have been willing to make changes that are different from the conventional ways of operating a plant."


Smart manufacturing is a program in which small groups of hourly employee meet to evaluate conditions and develop methods to achieve continuous improvement and resolve productivity, quality and safety issues. TPM is a program with skilled trades workers working in small groups to address through-put, safety and other issues with proactive or preventive measures.


In its evaluation, the Shingo team noted that "ITP II has a strong and healthy relationship with the union at all levels across the plant. The union supports involvement in continuous improvement and shares the long-term vision for the organization."


"Employees are empowered and trusted to handle day-to-day issues and find their own opportunities for continuous improvement," the Shingo evaluators said.


"ITP II's team members have always gone above and beyond to be the best," said Rich Boruff, United Auto Workers Local 685 president. "This plant is a prime example that today's UAW can be competitive and forward thinking when it comes to continuous improvement and team-based manufacturing. I am very proud of ITP II's team members and it's been an honor to represent such a proactive workforce."


Said ITP II union steward Chris Steward: "At ITP II, the UAW and management have always worked together at ITP II to ensure we meet our goals in SQDCME. (Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost, Morale, Environment.) We know how critical meeting these metrics is to our future business and with continuous improvement being at the forefront we hope to have new product coming in. With today's economy we try to step up to the challenge and overcome any obstacles we may encounter to make this plant successful. We're family here; and like a family, we want to see our brothers and sisters succeed."


In 2008, the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) plant in Dundee, Mich., a joint venture among Chrysler LLC, Mitsubishi Motor Company and Hyundai Motor Corporation, was recognized with the Shingo Silver Medallion award.


In 2005, Ewasyshyn was inducted into the Shingo Prize Academy in recognition of his dedication to the pursuit of lean, world-class manufacturing.


The Shingo awards are managed by the Utah State University College of Business.

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