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Chrysler uses 3-D modeling software to optimize powertrain-manufacturing processes -- before the first piece of equipment is installed.
In the midst of an epic revival, Chrysler Group LLC has been launching new vehicles, engines and transmissions at a furious pace.
The automaker has turned to 3-D modeling software to help its manufacturing operations keep up -- safely and cost-effectively.
The software enables Chrysler to assimilate the principles of its continuous-improvement methodology -- World Class Manufacturing, or WCM -- early on in the planning process, Chrysler powertrain-manufacturing executive Brian Harlow explained Monday.
"Basically we have a more proactive form of WCM," Harlow told attendees of the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich. "We're able to do kaizens to make improvements related to our [WCM focus areas] even before any equipment arrives at the plant."
Using the 3-D software, Chrysler can design manufacturing processes that are safer and more ergonomically friendly for operators.
For example, WCM calls for operators to receive parts and components in the "golden zone," a 60-degree window that is comfortable for operators and minimizes non-value-added walking.
"With 3-D, before production ever begins, we're able to determine where racks and materials have to be for every operator in order to bring parts to the golden zone," Harlow said.
Harlow estimates that the automaker now can conduct 90% to 95% of its job-safety risk analyses "in the virtual world."