TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Chrysler Group’s decision to reuse existing tooling at its Newark, DE, assembly plant for production of the new Dodge Durango is cutting capital expenditures for the program by 30%.

Utilizing existing tooling reduces capital expenditure for new Dodge Durango 30%.

The auto maker says the methods used in the Durango program will flow through to other vehicle projects currently under development.

Unlike previous programs that required significant downtime for tooling changeover and the acquisition of new machines to accommodate the new vehicles, Chrysler found ways to use Newark’s existing equipment and recycle tooling not being used by other factories for assembly of the new Durango.

“The Durango program followed a very unique path to use existing tooling in the plant whenever possible,” Craig Corrington, Chrysler’s group vice president–assembly, stamping and component operations, says during a speech Monday at the Management Briefing Seminars here.

He says the process helped Chrysler reduce its capital budget 30%. “The key to making flexibility work at Newark was to process new and old Durangos down the same line.”

Corrington says Chrysler budgets about $500 million on average for capital expenditures for a new vehicle program.

The move to use existing tooling at Newark and recycle surplus tooling from other facilities is helping reduce Chrysler’s scrap rate.

Delaying the acquisition of new tooling also is cutting changeover time for the vehicle and limiting the amount of energy needed to make new tooling.

“(This) is a great example of how flexibility can create value,” he says. “We (used to) scrap or sell existing tooling for a fraction of its value.”

Chrysler also utilized flexible thinking at its Twinsburg, OH, stamping plant, where a majority of Durango’s body panels are formed. Dubbed Common Systems Architecture (CSA), Twinsburg now can stamp a number of components, including passenger car and truck doors on the same line. The robots used at Twinsburg require little downtime for reprogramming.

Twinsburg is the test bed for the CSA process, which will be phased in at other Chrysler stamping facilities in the future.

“We plan to apply this best-practice experience in flexibility across our manufacturing organization,” he says.

Corrington says Newark could receive another frame-based vehicle if demand for the new Durango wanes, thanks to the new flexible tooling installed at the plant.

“We could move another frame vehicle over to Newark,” he says. “The flexibility is there to do that.”