The purpose of Chrysler’s World Class Manufacturing Academy is to reduce waste, increase productivity, and restore the employees’ dignity. The continuous performance improvement resulting from the World Class Manufacturing Academy (WCMA) has taken Chrysler closer towards the goal of eliminating workplace accidents, plant breakdowns, and inventories, thus creating business and customer value. In addition, the WCMA approach has enhanced the quality of Chrysler’s products and maximized the company’s flexibility in addressing customer needs. The WCMA equips Chrysler’s employees with the skills on how to improve the work environment and reduce the factors that cause accidents and dangerous incidents.
A key pillar of the training is safety, and its major aim is to ensure there are no accidents in Chrysler’s plants. The safety pillar requires the implementation of policies and standards for preventing accidents, continuously improving workplace ergonomics, and ensuring all the workers possess the skills and qualifications needed to eradicate potential hazards and workplace accidents. Chrysler has successfully implemented a cost deployment pillar that mandates the management to carry out an annual analysis and audit that lays the roadmap for planning how to reduce waste. Chrysler’s improvement program has helped the company reduce wastage tremendously by identifying the activities that generate waste, determining how to redesign the production process in order to make these activities more efficient, valuing the annual waste, and identifying the best methods for eliminating the waste.
Another focus of the training in the WCMA is the management of the waste identified under the cost deployment program, and this means Chrysler has to prioritize focused improvement in order to ensure it does not allocate valuable resources to areas that do not add shareholder value. The corrective actions for alleviating waste target specific operational areas and their aim is the restoration or introduction of quality standards. The nature of focused improvement implies that it is a periodic task. Focused improvement aims to reduce waste in the entire production process and remove activities with an insignificant contribution to value added and thus unlikely to make Chrysler’s products cost competitive.
Chrysler’s WCMA uses hands-on training (FCA North America, 2012). Before Chrysler started sending its employees to the WCMA, the poor conditions in which its machinery and equipment operated meant that it had to contend with an inefficient global production system. After the opening of the WCMA, Chrysler has enhanced its production system’s efficiency tremendously by doing three things. First, it has restored the equipment and mechanical devices in its plants to their original state and maintained the initial technical aspects in order to stop deterioration. Second, Chrysler has ensured that the production workers are more involved in maintenance and implemented a cooperation system that helps the machine operators work together with the employees who undertake the regular maintenance services. Third, the company has developed the technical skills that the employees need to maintain the equipment. All the activities in autonomous maintenance require the development of employee skills. In addition, the autonomous maintenance program has ensured a good workplace organization system that improves efficiency and maximizes worker productivity. The autonomous maintenance program is only successful to the extent that Chrysler implements the professional maintenance pillar well, and this pillar encompasses the activities resulting from the common failures in production systems.
The hands-on training at Chrysler’s WCMA has several advantages over classroom instruction. This training, unlike classroom instruction, equips the employees with the skills needed to manage the dependencies between effective professional maintenance and systematic measures to prevent failure and the cooperation between machine operations and maintenance services. Chrysler’s successful implementation of the professional maintenance pillar has resulted from the use of good strategies for analyzing the causes of failure and control difficulties, enhancing the qualifications of the maintenance services personnel, and coordinating the work of the autonomous maintenance department. Despite the preventive actions that Chrysler undertakes, customer satisfaction rates still fall below 100%, and this makes quality control an important aspect of the operations (Amend, 2012). When the final products have numerous defects, the company incurs considerable expenses in footing the cost of the products that the customers have rejected. The WCMA has equipped Chrysler’s employees with the skills needed to implement the quality control programs needed to maximize the quality of the final products at a low cost, develop good conditions for the whole production system, and increase the staff members’ skills in solving the operational problems that contribute to the high rate of product defects.
Sustaining high levels of quality in the production process requires Chrysler to manage logistics and customer service well, and the WCMA has helped it in this regard. Keeping a large stock of items or rescheduling production activities because raw materials are inadequate necessitates the logistics and customer service pillar of manufacturing excellence. The logistics and customer management skills that Chrysler’s employees have learned from the WCMA have enabled them to create conditions that ensure materials flow well within the company’s premises and the suppliers do not face difficulties bringing raw materials into the manufacturing plants. In addition, Chrysler’s employees know how to manage inventory in order to minimize the inventory levels, reduce the time and distant that the employees take to move within the manufacturing facilities, and integrate the operating in the purchasing, production, and sales departments. The most significant benefit of the WCMA seems to be the adoption of a sustainability approach to operations management. Sustainable operations require an organization to invest in its people and external stakeholders. Chrysler now has a structured system for training its employees, and its efforts to improve the work conditions have made it address the environmental concerns that face contemporary manufacturers.