Two of the hottest vehicles in North America are being made in the St. Louis area, and on the morning of April 24, members of Olin’s Supply Chain & Operations Association saw the production process up close.
Guest blogger: Justin Tardiff, MBA 2016
GM’s Wentzville Assembly plant produces the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks, along with the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana. After adding a third shift this spring, the plant is presently producing around 930 vehicles a day, with a goal of pushing that number up to 990 vehicles. This increase in production is well warranted as demand has been very strong: in March, the Chevrolet Colorado crew cab was the fastest selling pickup truck in the United States.
After an overview of the plant’s history and supply chain structure, as well as safety procedures, the group donned orange vests and headed out onto the plant floor. Material Director Mark Rhoades and Material Planner Mary Beth Natoli led the group on a tour of general assembly, pointing out aspects of GMS: the company’s manufacturing process strategy.
The single assembly line produces vehicles ranging from cut-away full-size vans (essentially, a van with only the cab portion, with the rear transformed by aftermarket suppliers to a moving truck or shuttle bus) to crew cab pickup trucks with a number of engine sizes. With such a variety of vehicle types and few interchangeable parts, the plant relies on RF (radio frequency) technologies and part picking to ensure that the right parts are paired with the right vehicle at the right time, while maintaining lean inventories and identifying areas for savings.
The tour concluded with a Q&A segment and an overview of future projects for Wentzville Assembly, along with a conversation about the challenges of collaboration between supply chain leaders and engineers to ensure a balance of quality and efficiency.
We are grateful to Mark Rhoades, Mary Beth Natoli, and the entire staff of GM Wentzville Assembly for their insight and hospitality.
Top image: 2015 Chevy Colorado, from www.caranddriver.com