TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- DaimlerChrysler is challenging its suppliers to get more flexible.
Craig Corrington, vice president of DaimlerChrysler's truck and activity vehicle assembly operations, and stamping and component operations, said the automaker gained flexibility at several of its plants in the past year, and suppliers need to keep up.
"Our supplier base will have to have the same type of flexibility to complement what we are trying to do," he said.
"This way, as the marketplace shifts, which it always will, we will both be able to adjust quickly."
Corrington, who was promoted to the newly created position Aug. 1, spoke last week about world-class manufacturing.
He had overseen stamping operations and will spend the next couple of months integrating that business with assembly operations.
Corrington pointed out several improvements that have taken place at DaimlerChrysler in the past year, including reducing unscheduled overtime 800,000 hours and improving process quality by as much as 70 percent.
Through flexible manufacturing, DaimlerChrysler has the opportunity to reduce capital expenditures by 30 percent, he said.
"A supplier that can become more flexible with their OEMs will play a vital role in future sourcing," Corrington said, adding that suppliers have a huge opportunity when it comes to modules, including instrument panels and door panels.
And greater flexibility could be the cure for overcapacity at assembly plants in the United States, he said, allowing for vehicle derivatives, different platforms and a unibody frame instead of a body on frame.
Said Corrington: "The more flexibility you gain, the more opportunities you have to use that capacity much greater."