The Belvidere Assembly Plant, located in Belvidere, IL, began production of the Plymouth Fury and Dodge Monaco in 1965.
Approximately 3650 plant employees work in three shifts assembling the Dodge caliber and the Jeep Compass and Patriot at the upgraded facility that uses an innovative manufacturing process that will provide the company the ability to make up to three models and test build a fourth model on one assembly line. The upgrades are part of a $419 million total program investment that was announced in January 2005.
The Belvidere Assembly Plant is the first Chrysler Group manufacturing plant to use a body shop that is comprised entirely of robotics and free of vehicle-specific heavy tooling. The 780 new robots in Belvidere's body shop can make necessary tool changes automatically, within a 45-second cycle time, giving the plant the flexibility to build the Dodge Caliber and three additional vehicles with no negative impact on production. This new process will both allow the company to vary production to better meet customers' preferences and make the change-over to next-generation models simple and cost-efficient.
The new flexible robotic body shop, already partially in place at other plants, will be fully implemented next at the Chrysler Group's Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant and St. Louis South (Fenton, Mo.) Assembly Plant.
Belvidere employees are working under a new workplace model that is being implemented throughout Chrysler Group's Manufacturing organization. In addition to extensive training, this new workplace model fosters greater creativity and innovation on the plant floor and lets employees assist in the design of their work stations. These changes provide a better work environment for employees and give increased support to assembly line team members.
Another example of innovation at the upgraded Belvidere Assembly Plant is its inbound parts sequencing center, which delivers complete subassemblies just-in-time to the manufacturing floor. These pre-assembled modules reduce the number of components required to assemble the Caliber, improving productivity, quality and worker ergonomics.
A tunnel connects the 500,000 square-foot sequencing center to the Belvidere Assembly Plant. This facility, operated by TDS/US—one of Chrysler Group's largest minority-owned suppliers — represents the highest level of integration with a Chrysler Group plant. TDS/US organizes parts and delivers them to the end of the tunnel where Belvidere employees pick them up and transport them to the manufacturing floor. This process maintains in-plant stocks at optimal levels, minimizes delivery times and reduces costs an estimated 12 percent a year compared with the previous process model. By carefully managing the material flow at the plant, the sequencing center helps workers focus on manufacturing quality and allows Belvidere to remain one of the most efficient manufacturing models in the Chrysler Group family. The sequencing center manages more than 2,300 different parts that are used in Caliber's build process.
The 3.7-million-square-foot Belvidere Assembly Plant is home to UAW Locals 1268 and 1761.