The KUKA Systems manufacturing operation in Toledo, Ohio celebrated the production of its 500,000th Jeep Wrangler car body last month. The half-million mark was reached as the plant transitioned to manufacturing 2011 model Wranglers.
This represents an important milestone for the four-year-old venture known as the KUKA Toledo Production Operations (KTPO), which has earned a reputation as one of the most efficient body-in-white manufacturing centers in the North American auto industry. KTPO is one of four plants comprising the Toledo Supplier Park, the only venture of its type in North America. Different contractors, each in its own building located at Chrysler Group’s Toledo Assembly complex perform separate vehicle assembly functions for the Wrangler. KTPO builds the body-in-white, which is the unfinished, unpainted vehicle body that is mated later to the chassis. Magna Steyr operates the paint shop and Mobis North America, a division of Hyundai-Mobis, assembles the chassis. Chrysler performs final assembly.
The supplier park began producing the Wrangler in 2006 and soon became one of the most efficient assembly operations on the continent. For two years now, a leading third party agency that measures auto industry efficiency has reported that it takes less time to build a complete vehicle in the supplier park than at any other North American assembly plant, domestic or foreign-owned.
KTPO’s first time capability rate – the percentage of Wrangler bodies passing initial inspection and going to the paint shop without secondary inspection or reprocessing work – is industry-leading, says KTPO managing director Jake Ladouceur. With exceedingly low staff turnover and a strong relationship with its United Auto Workers union local, “we’re able to focus our joint efforts on the product for continuous improvement.”
In designing and equipping KTPO, KUKA Systems leveraged its expertise as a leading designer and integrator of automated assembly processes for major automakers. The Toledo line is equipped with 245 robots and is staffed by 240 employees working two shifts per day.
“KTPO is showcasing how KUKA Systems can implement a state-of-the-art body shop that year after year sustains the highest level of operational efficiency and product quality,” says Larry Drake, president and CEO, KUKA System Group.
About KUKA Systems:
KUKA Systems Corp North America, a Michigan-based company, is part of KUKA Systems Group of Augsburg, Germany, a leading global supplier of flexible automation systems for the automotive, aerospace, energy and other industries. A worldwide workforce of over 3,500 works on ideas, concepts and solutions for automated production. KUKA Systems has subsidiaries and sales offices in Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 2009 KUKA Systems recorded orders valued at around 615 million euros.