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Volkswagen's Continued Presence in Puebla

August 10, 2014
Volkswagen's Continued Presence in Puebla

Volkswagen's Continued Presence in PueblaVolkswagen's manufacturing facility in Puebla employs 16,500 workers. It operates every day of the week except Sunday, which the company uses to make manufacturing adjustments and perform maintenance. The factory produced 2,500 autos per day, including the Classic, Jetta A6, Beetle and Cabrio convertible models. From such production, 20% will be sold in Mexico's domestic market and 80% exported abroad. The company's enormous plant occupies 310 hectares (approximately 7,66 acres) and features 100 different warehouses and buildings which occupy an additional 200 hectares (approximately 540 acres). As an aside, the plant holds the Guinness World Record for the preparation of 12,600 chiles en nogada, a Mexican culinary favorite originated in the kitchens of Puebla.Production of the New Volkswagen GolfThe production process of Volkswagen's new Golf begins with the stamping of metal parts, which is 100% automated using presses created by the German company Müller Weingarten, each with the capacity to handle 40 tons. The stamping presses create 7,600 tons of pressure and can produce up to 66 pieces per minute. From the stamping area, the manufacturing process continues to assembly of the chassis and body, where 422 robots made by the German company Kuka perform 85% of the work, while the rest is finished by the company’s employees, who are better able to access tight areas in the vehicle assembly process. The company uses laser welding to manufacture critical parts quickly and precisely, with weld marks that are almost undetectable to the human eye. The laser welders can weld 30 centimeters in three seconds and form up to three different pieces. These high tech welding processes are used only on key points, as such process consumes significant energy. The rest of the welding process utilizes other welding and soldering techniques, such as urethane, which carries a warranty of ten years.Once the body and chassis of the vehicle has taken form, it is transferred to the paint booth, where the vehicle is washed and receives a special solution to avoid rusting, and a primer coat in preparation for the final application of paint. Once the vehicle has been painted, an oil based transparent coating is applied. The painting process, while very interesting, is the most time consuming part of the whole production line, taking 12 to 13 hours until a vehicle emerges from drying ovens. The final body then goes to the assembly area where all of the components are added, including the drive train. The most important step in this part of the manufacturing is the installation of the drive train. Timing is critical at this point of the process, as all suppliers must deliver their components directly to the production line just-in-time and in a pre-ordained sequence. This is not an easy task to complete, as more than 1,500 parts combinations exist, and all the assembly must be completed at the same time, through finalizing installation of the ignition switch. In fact, some of the vehicles are destined for export to the 16 countries in which the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle. Once the auto's assembly is complete, it receives ten liters of fuel in order to pass a series of tests, which are conducted by 120 drivers, each of whom specializes in only one model. The tests include completing a 3.5 kilometer circuit over different surfaces and passing through a water chamber. In terms of volume, the Puebla plant is the largest automotive production facility in North America.

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