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DSI stands down 250 workers in Albury

Clutch plate issue: DSI's Albury factory has been brought to a standstill over a faulty transmission component.

US clutch plate problem halts DSI plant, jeopardising SsangYong production

General News logo28 Mar 2012

A SQUEALING clutch plate brought the DSI Holdings vehicle transmission plant in Albury to a standstill yesterday, with all 250 workers stood down until further notice.

The problem with the latest batch of the United States-made parts for rear-drive transmissions bound for South Korean vehicle manufacturer SsangYong is just the latest challenge for the company, which was rescued in a buy-out by Chinese vehicle manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Automobile Holdings in 2009 after falling into receivership in the global financial crisis.

The faulty part is thought to be for transmissions destined for the latest SsangYong Actyon Sports ute – just launched this month in Australia – putting production for global markets in jeopardy.

DSI is the sole source of the Australian-engineered rear-drive transmissions for Geely and its client, SsangYong – which is owned by India’s Mahindra and Mahindra – while DSI-designed front-drive automatic transmissions are made in both Australia and China.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) NSW vehicle branch secretary Sean Morgan told GoAuto today that he had been told by the company that it hoped the plant would return to work after Easter – in about two weeks – but that was dependent on a solution for the problem part.

 center imageLeft: SsangYong Actyon Sports.



“They have identified the problem with the part, and as we speak they are liaising with America to try and work out how they can rectify the problem,” he said.

“It is an integral part of the transmission – a clutch plate – and when they heat-treat them they carbonise them.

“The carbon stops the squealing when the clutch is engaged, and apparently there is not enough carbon in the clutch plate and it is creating a whining noise or squealing noise.

“From what the company is telling me the Americans are not acknowledging it is their fault in terms of the manufacture, whereas DSI is saying they (the American company) have been building this job for two and half years and we have never had an issue up until now.”

Mr Morgan said SsangYong was now “breathing down DSI’s neck” to have the problem rectified, as the affected vehicle was in high demand.

He said DSI had told workers they would be stood down for the remaining three working days of this week and the four days of next week, leading up to Good Friday.

The factory was to have been closed for a week for a scheduled mid-year break after Easter, but DSI apparently had told its workers they can return that day if they wish, indicating that they hoped to have the problem solved by then.

The six-speed automatic used in the new SsangYong Actyon is a revised version of the Australian-developed and built DSI transmission that was introduced in the previous SsangYong Actyon Sports in 2008, while the six-speed manual is new.

Apart from rear-drive transmissions, DSI (Drive Systems International) exports front-drive six-speed automatic transmissions to South Korea to be fitted to SsangYong vehicles such as the Korando.

The company was already looking to make redundancies at its factory in the Albury suburb of Laverton, triggering an ongoing dispute with workers and the union.

Mr Morgan turned up at the factory yesterday to help resolve the redundancy issue only to be told that all the workers were being stood down.

When GoAuto called the DSI factory today, the receptionist said no one else was there to take our call.

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