Chrysler Group says it has achieved a significant milestoneby improving its overall manufacturing efficiency by 8.3 percent in 2002compared to 2001, according to The Harbour Report North America 2003. Theresults are the best year-over-year improvement in the company's historyand the second best of any auto manufacturer since The Harbour Report'sinception in 1981, says the company."It is rare to see an automaker improve in one year as much as the ChryslerGroup did in The Harbour Report," said Ron Harbour, president of Harbourand Associates, Inc. "The breadth of their improvement shows theconsistency of their approach, and that they have the foundation forgreater achievements down the road."The Chrysler Group says it has been committed to becoming more efficient, in orderto increase its competitiveness. As a result, every one of the company'splants in North America (assembly, engine, transmission and stamping)posted a gain in manufacturing efficiency in 2002."These broad-based achievements underscore the consistency of the company'smanufacturing strategy," stated Tom LaSorda, executive vice president ofmanufacturing for Chrysler Group. "We've set high standards and we intendto live up to them. This is a long journey, but you don't get to be aleader in productivity without setting objectives and making steadyprogress toward them. This is a solid step in the right direction."LaSorda credits efficiencies across all of the Chrysler Group plants, inthe areas of quality, throughput and productivity, as the key reasons whythe company had such a significant overall improvement in this year'sHarbour Report. Future efforts will continue in these areas, along with arenewed focus on engineering hours per vehicle and common parts sharing, according to the company.The results represent the employees' hard work throughout the plants, thesupport from the United Auto Workers and other local unions, as well as thework of the support teams who are responsible for helping to achieve thecompany's productivity goals, says the company."We know that our workforce is the key to all the equations that make upthe Harbour numbers. Machines alone can't produce vehicles; people producevehicles, and people are behind all the improvements we are seeing in ourplants," said LaSorda."It's through the hard work of Chrysler Group employees that we continuallyfind better ways of doing things, which in the end helps us be morecompetitive and build better products," stated Nate Gooden, United AutoWorkers vice president. "We're in it to be the best, and our membership isworking to make it happen."While the results are the best in the Chrysler Group's history, the company says itis still determined to raise its overall ranking versus the competition infuture reports. It will focus on improving throughput - the measure of howquickly a vehicle or part can be produced - and continue to evolve itsproduct development strategy, aligning design, engineering and procurementwith manufacturing."The Chrysler Group, with its Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge brands, has beenknown for its head-turning designs, and that will continue," said LaSorda."But we will also infuse more discipline into our processes, in order toachieve robust efficiencies. Look for greater efforts, also during productdevelopment, to attain long-term improvement in future Harbour Reports."The Harbour Report is one of several efficiency measures the Chrysler Groupuses to help improve its operations. Harbour measures hours per vehicle(number of hours worked/number of vehicles produced). Other areas that aretracked include quality, safety, cost and delivery improvements, all ofwhich contribute to manufacturing performance.