Craig Corrington is taking a high-stakes gamble at the Chrysler group's Dodge Dakota truck assembly plant.
He is running the plant 24 hours a day with not even a one-minute break between three shifts. And he hired 800 workers, most of whom had no experience in auto assembly, for the third shift at the Warren, Mich., plant.
"In my career, this is one of my greatest challenges. Launching this plant with three shifts," says Corrington, 51, Chrysler group vice president of assembly and stamping operations.
The truck plant has been a conventional two-shift operation, typically running six days a week, 10 hours daily and relying on scheduled overtime to meet demand.
But Chrysler's push for high output and efficiency led to the decision to hire 800 hourly workers at the plant and inaugurate a three-shift operation with the launch of the redesigned 2005 Dakota. The Warren Truck plant also builds the Dodge Ram pickup. In 2003, the plant built 274,912 units.
The 2005 Dakota pilot build began in May, and production vehicles will be assembled beginning in August.
Dodge sold 111,273 Dakotas in 2003. The company declined to forecast sales of the new model.