March 11, 2004
Chrysler Group’s Windsor assembly plant officially launches 2005 ‘Stow ‘n Go’ minivans
Windsor – Chrysler Group’s Windsor (Ontario) Assembly Plant officially launched the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan featuring the Stow ‘n Go seating system. The plant began producing the new minvans in January.
Tom LaSorda, Chrysler Group Executive Vice President of Manufacturing and Frank Ewasyshyn, Senior Vice President of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, came back to their hometown of Windsor to mark the occasion. Effective May 1, LaSorda becomes Chrysler Group’s Chief Operating Officer and Ewasyshyn takes over as the new Executive Vice President of Manufacturing.
“The Windsor Assembly Plant, birthplace of the minivan, has always been an incubator for generating ideas that drive innovation,” said Tom LaSorda. “After 20 years and over 10 million minivans, it has done it again with the production of the Stow ‘n Go seating system.”
In just 18 months, a cross-functional team from design, engineering, manufacturing, procurement and supply and suppliers evolved from design drawings to successfully launch the company’s first Stow ‘n Go seating system. This was only possible by a boundary-less product development process that involved simultaneous creation of product and manufacturing strategies to build the minivan.
The Windsor facility was changed in almost every area of the plant in order to accommodate the new minivans’ production requirements. All modifications were executed without a loss of production. In fact, the plant was able to continue building the 2004 minivans and Chrysler Pacifica on the same assembly line while piloting and launching the 2005 models.
The enhanced processes and installation of new technology will also benefit future product launches due to the greater levels of flexibility.
In the Bbdy shop, a new pallet system was installed as an enabler of flexibility and helped with maintaining production of the 2004 model year vehicles. The system can carry on the same line the underbody components for minivans and Pacificas, thus eliminating the need for separate conveyor lines for each product.
A new robotic line was also added to weld the vehicle’s underbody, which required a complete redesign to accommodate seats folding into the floor. Once assembled, over 350 points on the minivan’s body frame are checked for weld precision and quality.
The paint shop was modified to accommodate new robotic applications of two types of sound dampener technology, both of which contribute to the minivan’s refined driving experience and the new levels of quietness while riding inside.
In the trim, chassis and final area, new processes were developed to install the new safety features, including third-row side curtain airbags, inflatable knee blocker and multi-stage front airbags, among others. Ergonomic robot arms were also added to enable smooth and safe installation of the all-new second- and third-row seats.
Working closely with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), Windsor Assembly teams conducted over 246,000 training hours in 2003 in order to prepare all employees for the new processes that were implemented at the beginning of this year.
The 2005 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are currently being shipped to dealerships across the U.S. and Canada. Over 40,000 vehicles have been produced at Windsor Assembly Plant since production began in mid- January. Chrysler Group also manufactures the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan at its St. Louis (Missouri) South Assembly Plant in Fenton, Missouri.