What the gizmos are for at Chrysler’s WCM academy

Chrysler’s recently opened “World Class Manufacturing” (WCM) academy in Warren, MI, uses a number of high technology tools, including a 3D immersion theater, the motion-tracking suits used in video game design, and a modified slot car track. To figure out what they are used for, however, we need to piece together separately published information from the Kelley Blue Book’s Car News from 1/24/2012  and the  1/30/12 issue of the  UAW’s Solidarity magazine,

The 3D immersion theater

From Car News, this is what it looks like:

According to Solidarity magazine, it is used for safety training, as follows:

Students don 3D goggles to become fully immersed in a plant setting full of unsafe acts and conditions, thanks to the same technology used by the U.S. Department of Defense to train soldiers deployed to Afghanistan.

The video becomes a learning tool to help workers become aware of unsafe conditions, identify potential hazards and work through possible solutions.

Motion tracking suits

From Car News:

From Solidarity:

…the Human Motion Capture Arena employs the same technology used to create video games in an exercise designed to improve efficiency in performing job functions.

A student dresses in a special suit covered with LED sensors that capture the individual’s movements, from the largest such as walking to the slightest such as the movement of a finger. Above, a ring truss is equipped with multiple cameras that capture the movements and project them on a video display.

This exercise enables students to visualize how an operator would move to perform a given job function so they can eliminate waste by deciding how to reduce the number of movements or make them more consistent with a person’s natural movements.

The slot car track

From Car News:

From Solidarity:

The slot car track is used to demonstrate the seven steps of micro-stoppages on the line – small equipment breakdowns that can cause major losses.

The cars on the track and the track itself have been modified to “break down” while racing. A high-speed camera captures the movements, helping students see that the breakdown might be worse than what is obvious to the naked eye. In this way, operators learn to apply a disciplined process to discover the root cause of a problem.