Jeep Suppliers Get JIT All Over The Assembly Line

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

Jeep's newest assembly line in Toledo, the one that's opening today to make the 2007 Jeep Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited, is money when it comes to the JIT. That's Just-In-Time — the inventory strategy whereby parts are stocked and ordered only as needed and it's the way things've been done with suppliers and the automakers around this here town for a while. Apparently the folks in Toledo are doing something a bit different — and it takes JIT to a whole new level by integrating suppliers into the actual assembly line. Sounds like a blast right? Yeah — it bored the shit out of us too — but we'll do anything for a Jersey "money shot" joke.

Jeep facility puts suppliers right on line [Detroit News]

And Now Back to the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited [internal]

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JIT is not biggie. This actually cuts the risk tremendously. The biggest issue with just in time is the supply lines. Having suppliers in house accomplishes two things:

1) elimination of freight costs and lowers dunnage investment

2) it shrinks the amount of material in transit. A huge risk to both plant and supplier is that there will be a part failure at the supplier. All the material ahead of that failed part and subsequent corrective action are now suspect for failure and must quarantined and screened and validated. if the supplier is in the plant, the supply line is maybe two hours worth of material and a couple hundred yards of distance. at an outside supplier, that supply line can be as much as six weeks worth of material and thousands of miles in transit (worst case scenario from China), involve several cargo shippers, warehouses, and in line vehicle sequencing suppliers. Tied up in that supply line is millions of dollars of parts that may need to be scrapped or reworked. The replacement parts have to be airlifted or otherwise expedited - at a huge expense - to the plant so that production is not shut down.

This is the beauty of consolidated production and why the Ford Rouge facility was so successful. If I'm a line manager and wiget A that goes on my assembly is coming down the line cross threded, I can walk the length of the plant and yell at that line manager and bring back some acceptable parts, not call china and shut down the days production.