Emhart Fastening Teknologies has helped Chrysler Group slash development costs for the '04 Durango by $12 million by conducting a teardown of the future model to identify savings on fastening and other related applications.

“We did a 3-week teardown of the ('04) Durango and cataloged all the rivets and fastener applications on the vehicle,” says an Emhart spokesperson during a recent media presentation at the company's technology center in Mount Clemens, MI.

Emhart identified problem areas where Chrysler might incur warranty and quality related issues, including the attachment of the heat shield to the SUV's underbody.

Chrysler had planned to attach the shield with 10 bolts driven through the floor pan, which could cause problems with oil leakage and noise, vibration and harshness after several years of wear on the vehicle.

The supplier suggested Chrysler instead use arc weld studs to attach the heat shield to the pan, rather than driving bolts directly through it. The changes were adopted, and Emhart predicts they will save Chrysler $1.10 per vehicle or $1.01 million over Durango's 5-year production run.

Emhart also identified problems with the way sound deadening materials were attached to the Durango. The original production method called for the material to be attached via studs through the body's sheet metal. This process could result in various other NVH problems for Durango owners.

Emhart suggested attaching the material with a 1-sided arc stud weld part. The new process will save Chrysler $996,000 during the Durango's production cycle and should result in improved warranty performance, Emhart says.

In all, the supplier suggested 40 changes to the Durango's assembly process, of which nine applications have been adopted by Chrysler and will be used when the Durango goes into production in August at Chrysler's Newark, DE, assembly plant.

“This is remarkable when you consider not that many suggested changes are placed into production,” says an Emhart spokesperson.

The company also is working with Chrysler engineers to transfer some of their results from the Durango program over to the next-generation minivan line (dubbed “RT” inside Chrysler) when it launches in the '07 model year.

Emhart expects Chrysler to finalize its sourcing decisions on the next-generation minivan in June or July.