Using 3D to deliver a new view of manufacturing

Chrysler expands use of technology to help deliver products faster, better.


Chrysler Group LLC is using the world of 3D to change the way it looks at planning for future products and implements World Class Manufacturing (WCM) before a single machine is built or installed.

During a speech at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich., on Aug. 6, 2012, Chrysler Group vice president Brian Harlow said that the company has brought 3D into its upfront processes in order to prepare for the launch of two important new transmissions in Kokomo, Ind., – the eight-speed rear-wheel drive and nine-speed front-wheel drive – as well as other new powertrain programs.

"We knew we needed a new way of working in order to get our plants in Kokomo ready at an accelerated pace," said Harlow. "By using 3D technology, we are in effect injecting the principles of WCM from the very beginning of our planning for production startups such as the ones in Kokomo."

The goal of WCM is to continuously improve performance in order to reach the objective of zero waste, which includes zero accidents, zero breakdowns, zero waste of motion and zero inventories.

Chrysler Group is utilizing a three-dimensional modeling system specifically for powertrain manufacturing to help everyone see the shop floor as it really is and not how one might imagine it is.

"We live in three dimensions, not two, so with a two dimensional drawing, you had to imagine the third dimension," said Harlow. "Engineers have good imaginations, but those imaginations don't all work the same way. If you have 10 engineers looking at a 2D drawing, they will all see it a little differently."

By turning the view, Harlow said that engineers can see the manufacturing environment, including equipment, materials and operators, as it really is. In this way, issues that may delay a program or cost money to fix are addressed even before the first piece of equipment arrives at the plant.

"Three-dimensional modeling allows us to make our actual investments as late as possible in the launch process," said Harlow. "The goal is to make the launch process as vertical as possible because this shortens the time it takes to recover our investment."

The software also has the capability of showing an exploded view of a machine. By de-contenting the machine, an operator can see all of the nuts and bolts, making it easier to understand how it goes together, maintain and repair.

"Animation is another critical aspect of the 3D programming," said Harlow. "It allows us to validate cycle times and to discover system-related issues even before the machinery is made.

"If there is a situation anywhere that compromises production, we can identify it up front in the process, something we ordinarily wouldn't know until the first day of production," continued Harlow. "Now we can be proactive. We can change cycle times by moving content or by making changes with the machine tool builder."

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