Chrysler Group LLC Announces 1,800 More Jobs for Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant; Confirms Addition of a Third Crew
(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) Belvidere, IL - February 3, 2012 - Chrysler Group LLC announced that it will add about 1,800 jobs at its Belvidere (Ill.) Assembly Plant (BVP), which includes the addition of a third crew and hundreds of jobs for production of the all-new Dodge Dart, by the third quarter of 2012. With these new jobs, the Company will have added nearly 4,000 hourly jobs in the U.S. since the formation of the new company in June 2009.
Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the plans during a ceremony at the plant with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Belvidere Mayor Frederic Brereton, UAW Region 4 Director Ron McInroy and hundreds of employees. The last time BVP ran three shifts was in March 2008 when there were about 3,600 employees. Included in the 1,800 positions are nearly 500 jobs being added to launch production of the Dodge Dart in the second quarter of 2012. When all hiring is complete, the BVP employee population will increase from 2,700 to more than 4,500.
In addition to the jobs announcement, Marchionne acknowledged that the previously announced $600 million investment in a new 638,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art body shop had grown to nearly $700 million. The investment also included the installation of new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment exclusively for the production of the Dodge Dart.
“It was not by chance that we chose Belvidere to make this investment and build the new Dodge Dart,” Marchionne told employees. “Our decision is evidence of the faith we have in your level of commitment and your passion to deliver great products for our customers. You have been essential in our ability to author a remarkable story of recovery.
“I want to thank Governor Quinn, Mayor Brereton and the UAW for working with us to bring jobs, investment and a new product to this area,” said Marchionne. “With their help and this dedicated workforce, we are creating a work environment here in Belvidere that is dedicated to quality, and with the flexibility to compete with the best plants anywhere in the world.”
"This announcement is proof that America’s auto industry is indeed back,” said General Holiefield, Vice President, UAW Chrysler Department. “With the continued commitment and hard work of its UAW-represented workers, Chrysler will continue to add more good manufacturing jobs and introduce more industry-leading vehicles, securing the future for the Company and its entire workforce.”
Third Crew to operate on 3-2-120 pattern
The new jobs will be added as part of an innovative operating pattern that allows the plant to run an additional 49 days per year. The 3-2-120 schedule, as the operating pattern is called, utilizes three crews, working four 10-hour straight-time days per week for a total of 120 hours of production time. A typical two shift production schedule provides 80 hours per week of production time. Compared to a traditional plant schedule, individual employees on a 3-2-120 schedule work 49 fewer days per year, but the plant operates 49 more days.
First Fiat-derived vehicle comes from Belvidere
Belvidere is the first facility to build a Chrysler Group vehicle featuring a Fiat-derived architecture, adapted from the award-winning Alfa Romeo Giulietta. In addition to the Dodge Dart, the Belvidere Assembly Plant currently builds the Jeep® Compass and Jeep Patriot.
“The truth is that you are working in a plant that is an example of the kind of mosaic we aim to create between our two companies, Chrysler and Fiat,” said Marchionne. “A mosaic in which each piece has a clear identity and yet is interconnected with the other pieces, forming a strong overall design.”
The 2013 Dodge Dart redefines performance with Alfa Romeo DNA, fuel-efficient powertrains and Dodge’s passion for performance. The all-new Dodge Dart is a thoroughly modern vehicle that’s beautifully designed and crafted, agile and fun-to-drive. Loaded with useful, easy-to-use technology, class-leading safety features, including an unsurpassed 10 air bags and clever functionality, the 2013 Dodge Dart offers unmatched personalization, roominess, style, functionality and fun-to-drive dynamics.
The 2013 Dodge Dart will have a starting U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $15,995 and will be available in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T.
Preparing Belvidere to produce the Dodge Dart
Belvidere continues to implement World Class Manufacturing (WCM), a methodology that focuses on reducing waste, increasing productivity, improving quality and safety, and restoring dignity to the employees. In 2011, Belvidere employees submitted more than 20,000 suggestions and implemented more than 3,400 projects that have a potential annualized savings of $32 million.
At the same time the plant focused on WCM improvements, an all-new, state-of-the-art body shop, which will exclusively produce the Dart; a new Metrology Center; and a Center for Technical Vehicle Validation (CTVV) – the first such quality center in a U.S. Chrysler Group plant – were added to ensure that the Dart launches with the highest quality.
The plant also made changes to the assembly line to accommodate the Dart’s unique architecture. For example, more stations were added on the Chassis line to facilitate the installation of the Dart’s front end module, which comes to the plant already assembled and is installed later in the process. As a result, line operators can work in the engine compartment without having to navigate the front end module or bending underneath the vehicle as they have to do with the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot.
The installation of the instrument panel (IP) was another area of the line that required change because of the unique requirements of the Dart. The plant tried to commonize the IP installation arm with the Compass and Patriot, but couldn’t find an appropriate solution. As a result, there are two IP installation arms on the line – one for the Compass and Patriot, and the other for the Dart.
A couple of years ago, the team at Belvidere developed a “happy seat” to allow a line operator to slide into the door opening of a car to more safely and easily install the fasteners for the side air bags on the Compass and Patriot. The idea proved to be so successful at reducing motion injuries and improving quality that the Dart now has its own “happy seat” for the installation of the overhead counsel.
The plant also insourced production of the front and rear suspensions for the all-new Dart, so there are now two new lines feeding the decking line where there were previously none.
About the Belvidere Assembly Plant
The Belvidere Assembly Plant was completed in 1965 and produced its first car on July 7, 1965. The product line from 1965 to 1977 included the Plymouth and Dodge two-door and four-door models, and station wagons, and the Chrysler Town & Country station wagon.
In 1977, the plant was converted to front-wheel drive production. From 1978-1987, the product lines included Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni.
In 1987, the plant underwent a $367 million state-of-the-art, 16-week model changeover to produce the Chrysler New Yorker and Dodge Dynasty, the company's full-size front-wheel drive four-door sedans. Two years later, the plant underwent a $72 million model changeover for production of 1990 models that included the Chrysler Imperial and New Yorker Salon.
In 1994, the plant was converted to produce the Plymouth and Dodge Neon. Production of the Neon ended in September 2005. The Dodge Caliber was launched in December 2005, followed by the Jeep Compass in May 2006 and Jeep Patriot in December 2006. The last Dodge Caliber rolled off the line on Dec. 19, 2011.
In October 2010, Chrysler Group announced that it will invest $600 million – which increased to nearly $700 million – to support the production of future models in 2012. The investment includes the construction of a 638,000-square-foot body shop as well as the installation of new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment.
About Chrysler Group LLC
Chrysler Group LLC, formed in 2009 to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat S.p.A., produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Mopar, SRT and Fiat vehicles and products. With the resources, technology and worldwide distribution network required to compete on a global scale, the alliance builds on Chrysler Group’s culture of innovation, first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925, and Fiat’s complementary technology that dates back to its founding in 1899.
Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., Chrysler Group’s product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country, Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Durango, Ram 1500, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Fiat 500. Fiat contributes world-class technology, platforms and powertrains for small- and medium-size cars, allowing Chrysler Group to offer an expanded product line including environmentally friendly vehicles.
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