DaimlerChrysler: The road to excellence

While there's a lot to be said for continuous improvement, every once in a while it's nice to stop, look around and survey what has been achieved. At manufacturing facilities such as Chrysler's Belvidere, IL assembly plant, such a survey resulted in its selection as PLANT ENGINEERING's Top Plant for 2005.
By Bob Vavra, Editor December 1, 2005

While there’s a lot to be said for continuous improvement, every once in a while it’s nice to stop, look around and survey what has been achieved. At manufacturing facilities such as Chrysler’s Belvidere, IL assembly plant, such a survey resulted in its selection as PLANT ENGINEERING ‘s Top Plant for 2005. The recognition comes with an award dinner as part of our Product of the Year gala on March 20 in Rosemont, IL as a kickoff to National Manufacturing Week.

The Top Plant award confirms for Chrysler’s Belvidere plant what they really already knew — that while striving for excellence seems like an endless journey, every once in a while you get to a destination.

What PLANT ENGINEERING ‘s skilled writers cover is how manufacturers seek excellence. Some of that is accomplished with better use of the tools of the trade — pumps and motors, switches and gears. Sometimes, it’s using innovation to solve problems. Sometimes, it’s the innate skill of workers that creates excellence. At a Top Plant, it’s all of the above.

One of the marvels of modern manufacturing operations is how plant conditions are assessed and measured. Monitoring equipment has become so sophisticated that it is intuitive. Equipment will tell operators when it needs to be maintained.

Those innovations, however, only create the opportunity for excellence. The critical eyes and the skilled hands and the analytical brain of the manufacturer is still needed to see the data and make decisions that enhance safety, productivity and quality. To be excellent in manufacturing — to be a Top Plant — requires not just the best machines, but also the best people.

What makes a Top Plant? The answer to that is as varied as the products that are manufactured and the places where it occurs. Chrysler’s Belvidere plant has one answer. Your plant may have another. The common denominator is a thirst for excellence and the will to see it through to completion.

Think of the Interstate highway system for a moment. You can get from anywhere to anywhere by car. You plan the route, you prepare for delays, you factor in the rest stops, and you start on your way. You don’t plan to puncture a tire or blow out a radiator hose. It’s not always a smooth trip. But you can get there, on time and safely.

Now, imagine building the Interstate highway system. We take it for granted today, but it didn’t exist 50 years ago. It took more than the machines to move dirt. It took people willing to see the route to excellence, and then to build it.

That’s what we celebrate at Belvidere with Chrysler, and what we hope you celebrate in your plant every day — excellence. The road to excellence is yours to create and travel.