Workers ‘excited’ about retooling at Windsor Assembly Plant

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Windsor Star/Grace Macaluso

As the Windsor Assembly Plant gears up for one of the largest retoolings in its history, manager Michael Brieda views the challenge ahead with a mixture of excitement and pride.

“This plant has been in the heart of Windsor since 1928,” Brieda said Monday of the facility, which will undergo a 90-day shutdown starting next week. “We’re excited about the new processes; the new equipment. We’re excited about getting to a higher level of quality.”

Some of the changes, that are part of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s $2-billion investment in the development of the next generation Chrysler Town and Country minivan, platform as well as plant upgrades, were evident during a media tour of the 4.4-million square-foot facility.

New robotic equipment that will transform parts of the plant sat idly nearby as hourly workers focused on the task of assembling 1,490 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans a day over three full shifts.

The body shop and assembly area will receive the most dramatic makeovers, with about 80 per of equipment being replaced or upgraded, said Brieda. The paint shop, which underwent a major renovation in 2007, will see about five per cent of its equipment upgraded.

Of the 1,300 robots in the body shop, which welds stamped metal pieces to form the vehicle’s frame, more than 800 will be brand new, said Paul Lichaa, body shop manager. The shop will also receive new or upgraded conveyance systems and will achieve a “zero expulsion rate,” added Lichaa.

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