When Volkswagen decided to build a luxury sedan called Phaeton, they decided to first build a "luxurious" factory to build it in.
In the old German town of Dresden, a stunning glass walled factory was built a few years back at a cost of about $208 million dollars.
To say this is a clean factory is an understatement. There are almost no parts lying on the floor. There are no tools on the floor or debris, grease, or much of anything else besides the pristine Canadian Maple.
Parts are distributed via a tram for the ultimate in just-in-time delivery. Only the parts for the vehicle being built and not much more will be delivered.
The Dresden plant is a final assembly plant and customer showcase. All of the dirty work of painting, assembling engine, transmission, and other part heavy components are done in other plants close by. The Dresden plant is the ultimate car showroom. If a customer wants to feel as if they are buying something special, this is the place to go.
Reservations must be made and only 250 visitors per day are allowed in and yes, if you order one before you go, chances are you won't be refused.
The power tools are charged by inductive chargers beneath the wooden floors so there's no tripping over wires while working on the cars. Each worker can lift the vehicle to the height that is most comfortable for them to work at.
Yes, this leads to a low output of about 40 cars per day per two shifts. But again, we're making a quality vehicle says VW and there's no sense in rushing quality.
Unlike most car factories that are full of robotic arms, only five robots are used in this final assembly operation for each car. The rest is done by hand.
Suspension and drive train which are heavy components, are assembled on the first floor near where the tram drops off the pieces. Once the body has been assembled to the point where it is ready to be married to the drive train and engine components, it is conveyored to the first floor and with the help of the lifts and some robots, they are connected.
One last trick are the many magnetic carriers that travel above the floor powered by the more than 6,000 magnets under the floor. If you've never seen a magnetic powered carrier in a factory, you've got to. It makes you feel as if you are watching something from a Star Wars movie!
Finally, when your car is finished, it may be stored in the glass factories glass tower next to other cars waiting for their new owners. The day you come to the factory for a tour is usually the day you pick up your new car. You get to drive it right out of the factory if you live locally !
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