2021 Assembly Plant of the Year: GKN Drives Transformation With New Culture, Processes and Tools
All-wheel drive (AWD) technology has taken the automotive world by storm in recent years, because of its ability to effectively transfer power to the ground. Today, many sport utility vehicles use AWD for better acceleration, performance, safety and traction in all kinds of driving conditions. GKN’s state-of-the-art ePowertrain assembly plant in Newton, NC, supplies AWD systems to BMW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis facilities in North America and internationally. The 505,000-square-foot facility operates multiple assembly lines that mass-produce more than 1.5 million units annually.
“Areas of improvement include a first-time-through tracking dashboard tailored to each individual line and shift that tracks each individual failure mode,” says Tim Nash, director of manufacturing engineering. “We use this tool to monitor improvements and progress on a daily basis.
“Overhaul of process control limits has been one of our biggest achievements,” claims Nash. “By setting tighter limits for assembly operations such as pressing and screwdriving, we are able to detect and reject defective units in station vs. a downstream test operation. This saves both time and scrap related to further assembly of the defective unit.”
“When we started on our turnaround journey, our not-right-first-time rate was about 26 percent,” adds Smith. “Today, it averages around 6 percent. A few years ago, cost of non-quality was roughly $23 million annually vs. less than $3 million today.”