KUKA-Toledo Production Operations resumes production of Jeep Wrangler bodies
Augsburg/Germany & Toledo/USA, July 6, 2009
KUKA Toledo Production Operations (KTPO), a subsidiary of the German KUKA Systems Group, has restarted pro-duction of the complete body-in-white for the Jeep Wrangler at the Toledo (Ohio) Supplier Park. Chrysler and three suppliers manufacture and assemble the four-wheel drive vehicle on the pay-on-production model. Manufacturing at Chrysler plants throughout North America was halted at the start of May due to uncertainty over the automaker’s since-completed corporate restructuring. Dur-ing the shutdown, dealer inventories of the popular Wrangler dropped to low levels, permitting the Toledo facility to be one of the first at Chrysler to begin producing vehicles again.
Chrysler petitioned for bankruptcy protection on April 30, 2009. The resumption of production at KTPO follows an agreement last month in which Chrysler agreed to pay KUKA’s pre-petition claims for manufacturing at Toledo and to continue existing contracts.
KTPO is the body-in-white manufacturer for the Wrangler. The supplier park – three supplier-operated plants and a Chrysler finishing plant – can build a vehi-cle with less labor than any other North American assembly plant of any manu-facturer. In ratings published by the Harbour Report that measures productivity per vehicle, it takes 13.57 labor hours to build a Wrangler at Toledo, or 1.5 hours fewer than the next most productive plant. KUKA Systems, a global leader in industrial automation, operates a highly automated assembly system at Toledo built around 245 KUKA robots running for two shifts. KUKA’s 342,000 square foot production floor can produce 35 car bodies an hour, or about 150,000 per year.