Recognition comes on heels of announcement that plant will build Jeep® Cherokee
Company’s Illinois assembly plant becomes 15th FCA North American facility to achieve milestone award
Award recognizes progress toward becoming World Class
The FCA US Belvidere Assembly Plant (Ill.) received two pieces of good news today – the first confirming that it would build the Jeep® Cherokee when it moves from its current home in Toledo, Ohio, in 2017, and the second announcing that it has been awarded bronze status for its efforts to improve in World Class Manufacturing (WCM).
As the 15th North American plant to receive a bronze designation, Belvidere Assembly earned a minimum of 50 points in 10 technical and 10 managerial pillars following a two-day audit on July 13-14, during which the plant demonstrated clear WCM know-how and competence through employee-conducted pillar presentations and a review of projects that have been implemented across the shop floor.
As the plant was finishing its audit today, the Company announced that it would invest $350 million in the Illinois facility to retool it to produce the Jeep Cherokee. Nearly 300 new jobs will be created. Production of the Dodge Dart and the Jeep Compass/Jeep Patriot will end in September 2016 and December 2016, respectively.
“Today is an exciting and important day for the Belvidere plant as these announcements solidify the plant’s future as an integral part of our industrial footprint,” said Brian Harlow, Vice President – Manufacturing, FCA North America. “Not only did the employees demonstrate their commitment to implementing WCM and were recognized with the bronze designation, but the pride and integrity with which they build our vehicles has secured their plant’s position as the next production home of the Jeep Cherokee. We applaud the Belvidere workforce for both of these accomplishments and look forward to the next chapter in the plant’s history.”
The achievement of WCM award levels, as confirmed through independent audits, recognizes the long-term commitment of the workforce to making significant changes that can secure the future of a facility. Awarded plants also have a role in accelerating the implementation of WCM throughout the organization as coaches and mentors.
“Our UAW partners have embraced the WCM methodology, understanding that its implementation is essential to our long-term success,” said Harlow. “The active participation of our hourly employees, through their ideas and input, is critical to making FCA US manufacturing facilities among the best in the world.”
World Class Manufacturing 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.
During an audit, zero to five points are awarded for each of the 10 technical pillars, which include safety, workplace organization, logistics and the environment, and for each of the 10 managerial pillars, such as management commitment, clarity of objectives, allocation of people, motivation of operators and commitment of the organization. A score of 85 would indicate World Class.
Of the 15 plants that have achieved bronze, three have gone on to be awarded silver – Windsor Assembly Plant (Ont.) in March 2015, Dundee Engine Plant (Mich.) in May 2015 and Toledo Assembly Complex in May 2016. The 11 facilities that currently hold the WCM bronze designation are:
- Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant (Mexico)
- Saltillo South Engine Plant (Mexico)
- Trenton Engine Complex (Mich.)
- Warren Stamping Plant (Mich.)
- Indiana Transmission Plant II (Ind.)
- Kokomo Transmission Plant (Ind.)
- Kokomo Casting Plant (Mich.)
- Toluca Assembly Plant (Mexico)
- Sterling Stamping Plant (Mich.)
- Brampton Assembly Plant (Canada)
- Tipton Transmission Plant (Ind.)
About the Belvidere Assembly Plant
Construction of the Belvidere Assembly Plant began in 1964 and the first car rolled off the line on July 7, 1965. Over the years, the plant has produced a variety of models from the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Plymouth brands. Following the alliance between Fiat and Chrysler Group in 2009, the Company invested $700 million in the plant to construct an all-new body shop to produce the Dodge Dart, a vehicle that showcased the combined engineering and technologies of the two companies. In addition to the Dart, the plant also currently produces the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. More than 342,500 vehicles were built in 2015. The plant employs nearly 4,300 people working a 3-2-120 operating pattern – three crews working four 10-hour days on two shifts for 120 production hours per week.
Belvidere was awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Green Building System certification for meeting the highest environmental standards in April 2015. LEED, administered by the United States Green Building Council, is a comprehensive system to define, measure and validate green buildings. Certification in the national recognition program is based on strict standards in five key areas: site planning, water management, energy, material use and indoor environmental quality.