TOLEDO, Ohio — Magna International Inc. has taken the "line" out of the assembly line at its newest plant here.
The Aurora, Ontario, parts maker has created a carousel-style assembly system that moves in unison with the production worker — a process that goes beyond the increasingly common manufacturing-cell approach.
The plant supplies front-end modules for the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro SUVs at Chrysler LLC's Toledo North assembly plant and the Jeep Wrangler SUV at Chrysler's Toledo Supplier Park.
Asked whether the carousel system is superior to traditional assembly lines, a Chrysler spokesman demurs. Magna President Mark Hogan is less diplomatic: "It's hard to declare victory because every automaker is continuously improving, but we like the efficiency the carousel gives and the error--proofing we get."
Hogan says the plant has been operating "at virtually zero defects" since it began production.
Modular assembly brings big advantages to suppliers and automakers. Building cars from dozens of large modules rather than thousands of small parts can help cut the number of operations on the assembly line, reduce vehicle weight and cut tooling costs.
Carousel assembly is the next step in that manufacturing strategy, Mag-na says.