Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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November 24, 2013

Bringing the academy to the plant

Chrysler brings WCM mobile unit to Kokomo.

When Fiat took control of Chrysler Group LLC, the Italian manufacturing giant brought along a commitment to World Class Manufacturing, the company’s own quality production system.

At Fiat, and now at Chrysler, “WCM is how we do our business. Period,” Mauro Pino, vice president for vehicle assembly operations and the Head of World Class Manufacturing in the Chrysler Group, told the continuous improvement blog better-operations.com.

What is WCM? The answer is complex, but at its core, it’s a discipline aimed at eliminating waste and improving efficiency in the manufacturing process.

It’s all-encompassing and no aspect of the operation is immune. From discovering the hidden costs of poor housekeeping, to the efficiencies generated by having team members’ work stations positioned properly, everything is prompted by an in-house investigation called a “kaizen,” the Japanese term for “improvement,” or “change for the best.”

Ever since the Fiat merger in 2009, managers from every Chrysler plant have been traveling to the company’s WCM Academy in Warren, Mich., where they participate in hands-on training in problem solving.

That training has paid dividends: managers have new eyes for the way day-to-day operations flow.

The success of those training sessions left company officials wondering how to get the same kind of training to the team members working shifts at the plants.

The answer came in the form of the company’s Dodge Motorsports semi-trailer, which has been converted into a mobile classroom space.

The converted big rig made its first stop outside of Warren this week at Chrysler’s Kokomo Transmission Plant.

“Now we can bring the academy directly to the plants,” said Wendy Santure, training and development lead at the WCM Academy.

By expanding WCM knowledge “deeper into the plants,” Santure said the company can ensure all the employees are using the method.

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