Diary of a Chrysler Parts Supplier

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
diary of a chrysler parts supplier

The following was posted anonymously on a UAW website. The facts of the matter have not been substantiated. I'm re-publishing it for two reasons. First, no one is talking about the potential (or actual) quality problems created by the squeeze on domestic suppliers, or the QC impact of recent and ongoing union strikes and stoppages, or the ongoing threat to auto workers' collective skills posed by job reclassification and employee buyouts, or (as in this case) the piss-poor corporate culture that still lingers within The Big 2.8's empires. Second, I'm inviting our front line readers to come into the light and tell it like it is. If you want to drop the dime/let the chips fall where they may, I guarantee your anonymity.

"We had a fire extinguisher get backed into by a forklift blowing up and covering light bars. So they make us clean them off with water still leaving the residue on there not notifying chrysler this problem even happened. Then friday morning someone forgot to lock parts on a truck going to chrysler so here we go all the parts fly of the trailer to the ground about a 5 foot fall these were break calipers rotors and a couple other parts not notifying chrysler of the damage.. just thought u want to know.. I wouldnt buy a car from this plant i see to many bad parts going over to chrysler and half the time it is not good. so Ill update u with any other foul ups we have. What they dont know wont hurt them as the motto goes."

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4 of 12 comments
  • GS650G GS650G on May 21, 2008

    Who wants to buy a car built by pissed off workers at a company run by bean counters first and engineers second? Are we supposed to pony up 10s of thousands of our dollars for these cars to show our solidarity with the union and our patriotism for American jobs? I don't think so.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 21, 2008

    These are purely anecdotal stories shared with me by coworkers working directly on various projects with auto makers. I worked for a company that built automated assembly and test systems. Our guys could not get our machine calibrated and began measuring all of the parts that came from Ford (Visteon). Big differences between the parts' machined dimensions from part to part. Their guys explained they were good enough and our guys had to alter the machine to cope costing more money. These by the way parts going on the Focus engine. Another story: coworker at same company told me how at a previous job at a similar company they had built what amounted to a refrigerator to chill plastic Chrysler air conditioner clips which were brittle and prone to snap on the assembly line. Chilling them kept them from snapping. Of course the engine bay is what temperature under normal use? How about a better clip design? Yes my experience with Ford, Visteon and Chrysler has been "it's good enough". Not in all departments though. Visteon had some very dedicated people looking at CAD drawings and would flunk them for minutia that did not even relate to the sizing of the parts (numbering would flunk a drawing but then it should too). That said I know some of our guys had a "good enough attitude" too. We might point fingers at the big 2.8 but it might be an intrinsic problem right to the core of American business. I'm a perfectionist myself but that is not necessarily an economical attitude to have in all situations. It's a balancing act. A friend who works for a Japanese rubber component company (motor mounts, bushings, etc) says their Asian customers are much more picky than their domestic customers. Asian customers check parts coming into the building and if one flunks the whole pallet goes back to the manufacturer to be tested and certified. As a customer that's the kind of parts I want my car built with and why I think my Honda is doing so well at 151K miles (made in Japan) and my VW is falling apart at 151K miles (Hencho in Mexico). VW Update: my gas tank is leaking today... Likely a $20 seal where the fuel pump enters the top of the tank.

  • Guyincognito Guyincognito on May 21, 2008

    @ RF, My point wasn't that errors are acceptable but rather, it is expected that operators will do everything and anything to mess up the process (not that this is always true), hence most processes are poka yoked and/or controls are put in place to limit exposure to the customer from human error.

  • Windswords Windswords on May 21, 2008

    Chrysler used to have much better relations with its suppliers than Ford ro GM, thanks to Thomas Stallkamp and his SCORE system and the extended enterprise system. After the "merger" this system was dismantled, although it still exists on paper. This quote from Allpar.com tells it better than I could: http://www.allpar.com/history/extended-enterprise.html "Suppliers' trust in Chrysler - and their investments - were repaid by Dieter Zetsche's crude demands of 15 percent price cuts, across the board, from all suppliers. Suppliers who built plants in Brazil simply to supply Chrysler's new Dodge Dakota plant were told soon after construction that the plant was being shut down as part of Daimler's "rescue" of Chrysler, which had seen massive profits the year before, and had amassed an estimated $8 - 12 billion in cash to avoid having to resort to such actions. To quote one insider, "At this time, SCORE no longer exists-there are no more payments for innovation and cost reduction by suppliers. Under the current thinking and direction, suppliers are not to be trusted and are to be bullied at every opportunity to 'demonstrate who's boss.' Think Lopez at GM in the 1990s...." "