The Detroit Free Press
November 24, 2020
November 24, 2020
Article continues at link.Fiat Chrysler's Detroit assembly plant manager says the place to be is on the shop floor
For Michael Brieda, the best place to deal with a problem is at its source.
As the manager at Detroit's first vehicle assembly plant to be built in decades, that place is the shop floor.
“You can't really solve a problem. You can't really help somebody unless you're on the shop floor where the problem exists so you can analyze it, discuss options, root cause, so on and so forth," Brieda told the Free Press recently. “If you're in the office talking about problems and you’re like 500 yards away from the problem where it actually takes place, you're kind of just guessing.”
Brieda, a 27-year veteran of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its predecessor entities, has been tasked with leading the launch next year of the new assembly plant on Detroit's east side. As Detroit Assembly Complex Mack Plant manager, the 49-year-old will lead a workforce of almost 3,900 building a new three-row Jeep SUV and the next generation Grand Cherokee.
Brieda, who has a background in mechanical engineering, previously managed the Windsor Assembly Plant, where he led the launch of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. This marks his sixth year as a plant manager.
The Mack plant will work in tandem with the nearby Jefferson North Assembly Plant, which is also getting a piece of the $2.5 billion investment that FCA is putting in its Detroit plants. As he spoke about the need to be on the shop floor, Brieda mentioned the term, "gemba," something he learned about through FCA's World Class Manufacturing production process. It's a Japanese term with automotive roots from Toyota that various dictionaries define as "the actual place."
The idea is to go and see where things actually happen.
Mack Plant Manager Michael Brieda stands in the body shop of the new plant. FCA is investing $1.6 billion to build the first new assembly plant in nearly 30 years in Detroit, bringing 3,850 new jobs to the city.
It's what Brieda does every day. He said he spends several hours each morning on the shop floor. A typical weekday begins when his alarm wakes him at 3:15 a.m. He then heads out for a three-mile run and tries to be at work by 5 a.m. His goal is to wrap up his work day during the week by 5:30 or 6 p.m. Saturdays are a bit shorter, at eight or so hours.