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Chrysler to train workers in Fiat efficiency system

Chrysler's Alexandra Nicholaou demonstrates human motion sensor system at WCM Academy.
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
Chrysler's Alexandra Nicholaou demonstrates human motion sensor system at WCM Academy.

Fiat first implemented what it calls The World Class Manufacturing system in Italy. 

Workers are trained to problem-solve to make their work station and factory more productive and efficient.  Ferreting out inefficiencies becomes everyone's focus, not just the managers.

Now Chrysler is using the system.

Workers will be trained at a high-tech lab in Warren - the World Class Manufacturing Academy - that includes practice engine and door assembly lines, movement sensors and problem-solving exercises. 

Chrysler’s Jim Sarkis says workers can prevent a lot of waste, including wasted motion.

"Running, bending, all of these things lead to fatigue, fatigue leads to defects, and of course fatigue also leads to injury, injury adds to lost time...."   

General Holiefield is a Vice President with the United Auto Workers.  He says the system helps Chrysler be more competitive, and thus, helps the workers.  

"We can’t negotiate job security, it’s something you’re gonna have to earn," says Holiefield.  "You have to build it, and if you turn out world class products as designed through the Fiat metrics you’re not gonna miss your mark."

Holiefield toured factories in Italy that use the World Class Manufacturing system and says he was highly impressed with how it improves factory efficiency.  The factories were so clean "you could practically eat off the floor," he says. 

And he says the system makes workers happier, because they have control over their own work environments for the first time.

Chrysler has trained about 400 workers at the World Class Manufacturing Academy in Warren already, and hopes to train 1,200 total this year.  

Workers spend about 30 percent of their time in a classroom, and the rest of the time is spent in hands-on work in the lab.



Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.