And the game plan saves you time and money…
Mopar® holds the heavy responsibility of specifying, procuring and maintaining stock of the service parts and accessories for current and past model vehicles within the FCA US LLC lineup. After all, Mopar Parts are the recommended original equipment parts for use for the lifetime of each vehicle. Historically, each Mopar branch embraced this challenge independently. But, with the pace of technology evolutions and other drivers of product change, such as emissions and fuel economy regulations, the old process lent itself to misfires in execution.
The solution came by way of the Mopar Program Management Team. Headed by Jeff Bengtson, the Program Management Team is the glue that brings the Mopar family together on new model readiness. One of Mopar’s earliest contributors to new model readiness is the Advanced Serviceability Team. The team works with vehicle engineers to achieve serviceable designs, and is composed of serviceability specialists from all disciplines, including body, interior, chassis, electrical, engine systems and powertrain.
The key to their collective success is early intervention. “We engage the Advanced Serviceability Team well before a vehicle program is officially approved, and we follow the program through its launch phase. This early engagement helps ensure the Mopar Accessory portfolio and serviceability requirements are included in the early design plans,” said Bengtson.
Sense and Serviceability
Mike Lawler, head of Advanced Serviceability at Mopar®, focuses largely on the packaging of the parts on the vehicle so that repairs are easier for the technician and cost less for the customer.
Said Lawler, “The earlier in the program we work with engineering, the better the outcome. We start our conversations with vehicle engineers long before tooling begins. The conversations have led to some serious improvements.”
The Jeep® Renegade coolant drain is a good example of their collective success.
In the past, it was allowed to use a quick disconnect hose to drain the coolant from the radiator. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but in practice, the disconnect hose allowed the coolant to flow from both ends. That caused spillage on other vehicle parts and sometimes onto the shop floor – both causing possible environmental issues.
The solution for the issue came from a simple edit of the engineering specifications to eliminate the use of a quick disconnect. The Advanced Serviceability Team worked with FCA NAFTA engineering and the EMEA Advanced Serviceability team to advocate a change to the engineering best practice document. Now, Global Engineering mandates the use of a shut-off valve for all vehicles, so the coolant flow is properly collected and disposed of in the service bay.
Another example of the collaboration was the transmission filter service for the Jeep Wrangler. Engineering had originally designed the automatic transmission fluid filter as a part of the steel transmission oil pan. Their logic was good – to guard the transmission for off-roading situations – but in a repair situation, the steel pan would have to be replaced every time the transmission fluid was changed.
Engineering at the suggestion of the Advanced Serviceability Team separated the two parts as a service-only solution and saved the customer about $100 for a transmission fluid change.
Accessories in Agreement
The Mopar Accessory portfolio includes a wide variety of lift kits, side steps, axles and other parts that require physical space or mounting provisions on the vehicle. When the vehicle engineers don’t have regular visibility to accessory details, it can make it difficult for them to prepare.
Such was the case with the Mopar-offered performance axle and the fuel tank that required a late-in-the-game fuel tank redesign to accommodate the axle dimensions.
“We learned a valuable lesson,” said Bengtson, “and we addressed it by bringing the Mopar teams together with engineering colleagues, and launched an improvement plan.” The plan enabled accessory engineers and vehicle component engineers to jointly review design data in a common system, and pulled ahead Mopar Part development milestones to align with the vehicle-side part engineering milestones so similar problems had less chance of occurring in the future.
Lawler and Bengtson agree that, while the program is still recent, the cost-savings on vehicle production, as well as the technician time-saving and customer savings, is already being realized on current FCA US models.