TOLEDO, Ohio -- Special rooms inside almost all of Chrysler Group's assembly plants, including its sprawling Toledo Assembly Complex, are helping the company improve its build quality.
The rooms, called metrology centers, house specialized laser measuring devices, scanners and other equipment that teams of engineers and hourly workers use to diagnose assembly and parts problems.
The centers are being installed in Chrysler's North American assembly plants as they are renovated to produce new products. Chrysler built a 25,000-square-foot metrology center at the 2.9 million-square-foot Toledo Assembly Complex this year as part of its $500 million renovation to launch the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
Similar metrology labs have been installed in Chrysler plants in Belvidere, Ill.; Brampton and Windsor, Ontario; and Detroit.
Jim Cole, manager of the metrology lab in Toledo, said the labs can spot potential assembly problems before they surface.
For example, workers simulating the assembly of preproduction 2014 Jeep Cherokees noticed stresses on a stamped part near the A-pillar.
Scans of the part before and after assembly revealed that the stamped piece was being deformed inadvertently during welding, though not enough to be seen with the naked eye.
Metrology teams were able to locate the issue in the assembly process and install a brace at the work station that supported the stressed piece as it was being welded, eliminating the issue.
"We're validating all of the inputs on each part during assembly," Cole said.
The exacting measurements made possible by the metrology centers have allowed engineers to decrease tolerances on their designs, resulting in better fit and finish and improving noise, vibration and handling, said Toledo Assembly Plant Manager Zach Leroux.
The metrology centers also have helped reduce the number of rejected parts from suppliers, Leroux said, because testing and measuring the parts more frequently help identify potential problems earlier.