Two years after the announcement that the Chrysler Group would create the first supplier park in North America to produce the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited, customer-ready vehicles are coming off the production line at the automaker's new Toledo Supplier Park (TSP).

Three supplier partners are managing and operating major parts of the vehicle production process from neighbouring facilities within the Toledo plant site.

The Kuka Group is responsible for building bodies for the 2007 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited, Magna Steyr runs the paint shop and Hyundai Mobis-owned Ohio Module Manufacturing Company (OMMC) assembles the vehicle's chassis. Chrysler is responsible for final trim and assembly.

All four facilities were completed earlier this year and have been producing pilot parts since April.

The painted vehicle body and the chassis module are sent on conveyor lines directly into Chrysler's final assembly building, where all vehicle components are married together to create the finished vehicle.

New methods of material flow have been implemented to manage the complexity of the two models being built on one assembly line. An inbound sequencing centre is housed in the adjoining Stickney complex and manages more than 1,800 different parts that are used in the Dodge Nitro, Jeep Liberty/Cherokee (built in the adjacent Toledo North plant) and Toledo Supplier Park's Jeep Wrangler two-door and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited four-door build process. In addition to sequencing, this centre provides parts metering, kitting and container management to both assembly plants.

"The Toledo supplier co-location project is clearly a compelling business opportunity for our suppliers and for the company," said Peter Rosenfeld, Chrysler Group executive vice president - procurement and supply. "Automakers and suppliers are under pressure to compete on a global level. By joining together to create this innovative co-located manufacturing project, we all will benefit from the opportunity to collaborate closely and strengthen our partnership."

This co-location project between the three supplier partners and Chrysler Group in Toledo is part of a $US2.1bn total program investment. The Chrysler Group has invested approximately $3.9bn into the Toledo area over the past five years. The investments include an original $1.2bn to build Toledo North (opened in 2001) combined with an expansion of Toledo North that gave the plant the flexibility to add the new Dodge Nitro to the Jeep Liberty assembly line.

"The supplier park represents one example of Chrysler Group's overall flexible manufacturing strategy," said Frank Ewasyshyn, Chrysler Group executive vice president - manufacturing. "Our flexible manufacturing strategy involves a number of actions that enable multiple products to be built on the same assembly line and alternative practices to traditional vehicle assembly."

Total capital investment for the Toledo Supplier Park project is projected to be $900m.

The TSP location is 2.0 million square feet with 1,400 employees while the Toledo North Assembly Plant is 2.10 million square feet and has more than 2,700 employees.