Chrysler LLC Launches 2009 Dodge Ram

Approximately $220 million was invested in Warren Truck Assembly to prepare for production of the new Dodge Ram. The investment was supported by the Michigan Economic Development Council in multiple ways, including training funds to support the major plant and process transformation.

Much has changed at Warren Truck Assembly in order to ensure a smooth launch. Supported by more than 150,000 hours of training over the past two years, the entire organizational structure of the plant was changed. The training, with a focus on customer satisfaction and manufacturing quality, enabled the workforce to shift from a traditional plant-floor model to a system of small, self-directed teams in which assembly line workers are empowered to run their operations. Plant management assumes a supporting role. The re-structuring allows for five times more quality-assurance team members on the floor.

Already, as a result of the new processes, the teams have identified and eliminated potential customer satisfaction issues. With a renewed emphasis on in-station quality, these teams are empowered to halt the assembly line, address a potential issue, and prevent defects from flowing downstream.

Earliest versions of prototypes were built on Warren Truck's assembly line to de-bug potential problems months before the production of saleable units. Even before actual truck bodies were available, the launch team took measures to prepare paint operations with ad-hoc components in order to eliminate the risk of delays. Quality Validation Stations were incorporated into the current manufacturing process and a new Quality Verification Process was put in place that will use a standardized system to protect the customer, drive corrective actions and will use problem-solving teams to identify and resolve potential quality issues that may arise in workstations.

Warren Truck underwent a 200,000-square-foot expansion that houses a completely new body shop powered by robotics that quickly adapt to almost any build plan. Enhanced processes and the installation of new technology will also benefit future product launches and product variants due to greater levels of flexibility. The system has been put into place at most Chrysler assembly plants and new model change-overs of the future will cost 80 percent less than change-overs of the past. The re-designed body shop houses all-new automation, including 270 new robots, several new conveyors and use of a faster pallet conveyance system.

Improvements were made to the final assembly area, including, for example, a new sun roof installation process as well as modifications to the seat-delivery system in order to accommodate the installation of larger seats in an ergonomically correct manner.

The 2009 Dodge Ram crew cab and Quad Cab pickups also will be built at Warren Truck Assembly Plant.

The Dodge Ram will be offered in regular cab, Quad Cab and crew cab size configurations, with three box lengths: 8 feet (regular cab), 6 feet, 4 inches (regular cab and Quad Cab) and a new-for-2009 box length of 5 feet, 7 inches ( Ram Crew 1500). All fit in a standard-size garage. Five trim levels are offered: ST, SLT, TRX, Sport and Laramie.

Powertrain choices include the new-generation 5.7-liter HEMI that produces 390 hp and 407 lb.-ft. of torque. Also available is a 4.7-liter V-8 providing 310 horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 3.7-liter V-6 generating 215 horsepower and 235 lb.-ft. of torque; four- and five-speed automatic transmissions; part-time and on-demand four-wheel-drive transfer cases; and 3.21, 3.55, 3.92 and 4.10 axle ratios.

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