By on May 20, 2008

rear_brake_rotor_2.jpgThe 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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12 Comments on “Diary of a Chrysler Parts Supplier...”

  • avatar

    “break parts” indeed.

  • avatar

    You get what you pay for. Chrysler has driven several supplier broke and then buy the parts for even more money that the original supplier wanted to stay viable.

  • avatar

    Big deal. I have stories from each place I’ve worked about screw-ups that were covered up. I’ve bought product that look like they’ve been chewed by Godzilla and repackaged and sold. It happens in all industries. The goal is to minimize damage. You’ll never eliminate it completely. Given that consider that some of the lowest paid, and poorly treated, people work in the food industry. Don’t piss off a waiter.

  • avatar

    Chrysler gets junk parts from crap suppliers because they’ll continue to pay for them.

    I once had business with a plant that made seats for Toyota’s new plant in Kentucky, and for Chrysler. Toyota’s seats got TLC, because a seat that arrived at the Toyota plant that wasn’t perfect got sent back. The plant even had people going over each seat with an electric razor to make sure that there weren’t any loose threads.

    Chrysler? “Good enough to ship” was the motto. The plant manager told me they never got a return from Chrysler.


  • avatar

    It isn’t suprising to hear stories like this, but it is a stretch to blame it on cutting costs. Believe me, this stuff happened even during the overtime galore cranking out third shift suv money party. This is why the manufacturing processes are rather robust. Things like damaged parts will be caught by sensors or end of line testing 97.2% of the time.

  • avatar

    guyincognito: Things like damaged parts will be caught by sensors or end of line testing 97.2% of the time. If a part is rejected, wouldn’t you (as a company, as a supplier, as a team) want to know what went wrong? And then make sure it didn’t happen again? Can you imagine a Porsche supplier saying, ja, OK, ve dropped the box. Now it is their problem. I was watching an HDTV program about building the Z06 (I’d watch grass grow in HD with my 1080). The voiceover was trumpeting the quality control systems at Bowling Green. A computerized camera doo-hickey scanned the mondo expensive 'Vette frame for mistakes. Just as I was about to cop some Zs, sure enough, the computer flagged a tiny hole in the wrong place. We see the screens showing where the hole was, and where it should be. The guy running the gig walks up to the offending hole. Yup. There is is. The voiceover guy: “the part passes manual inspection and heads over to anti-rust dunking pool (or some such thing).” Huh? The frame flunks electronic inspection and gets a free ride? Now I know some of you will say, so what? If it’s not important, what difference does it make? Well, if it’s not important, why are they inspecting for it? And anyway, how did the hole get drilled in the wrong place? And do I want to drive a Z06 with a– as in any– design flaw? Dedication to excellence and accountability start at the beginning and ends in the CEO’s office. Or not.

  • avatar

    I’ve heard the stories of parts rejected by Toyota or Honda were then put in the batch going to the Big 2.8 and were easily accepted. Or a suppliers QC system that was built to a Toyota or Honda standard and all items that failed their requirements yet passed the Big 2.8’s requirements.

    Since the Big 2.8 look for the majority of their cost savings by passing it onto their parts suppliers those suppliers hardly invest in that side of the business but rather focus on the QC development with Toyota or Honda (who assist them in doing so with rewards and money back based on performance). When the Big 2.8 make profits they tend to give the money back to their shareholders in dividends – whereas Toyota or Honda give small scheduled dividends but reinvest that money back into the business to fuel growth. Stockholders get increase in value of their position. It’s the old short term versus long term growth focus. Seems the Big 2.8 and most of their investors want short term gain / wealth at the expense of the future.

  • avatar
    ex gm guy

    This is an old story. It is sad that it is still true. Many years ago, I toured a brake supplier’s plant. At the time, VW and Chrysler were buying similar parts. VW required tighter tolerances and anti-corrosion treatment on every part. I know people who are still suppliers to the Det 3, Toyota and Honda. The story has not changed. The Det 3 want cheap parts. Toyota and Honda want reliable and successful suppliers. They are willing to pay a bit more, and work with their suppliers to get the quality they require. Det 3 quality has improved, but their corporate cultures will prevent them from catching up.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    @ 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.

  • avatar

    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 tells it better than I could:

    “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….” “

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