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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of you have visited the Neckarsulm production facility for sure, for the others interested I share some of my experience I had yesterday there. It is intentionally long for those interested.
The visit was organized by the dealer, however anyone can do the ’R8 tour’ for 150 EUR. Max 15 people make up a group – we went there with a friend of mine and that was our group (the dealer said it was specially organized that way – I do not know…). The visitor centre is very nice and huge, lots of cars, R8 body and finished (including Suzukagrey Exclusive colour – sort of cold white, bluish, greyish, but white – not nice to me), concept cars, Audi Exclusive showroom, but not so many things on show from the ’normal’ extra list though. I saw the carbon mirror hsg, the upcoming titanium wheels, they are nice.
They were unable (or maybe did not want) to answer any questions on the changes for prod year 2009 – they only said it is still fluid but we should not expect big changes. They could however told from the comission number that my car will be started on the line next week with final Q control on the Tuesday of week 10 (it would be a shame not to know this in detail from their prodcontrol unit).
I am running an automotive component manufacturing facility, delivering to almost all OEM’s with 1500 people, so I was very interested in the process. I found some of the connectors we are building… So, to my opinion, the building was there first (line was designed into it with accepting limitations), still they have a nice layout for body but do not think of a mass production serial line here. Automation is around 25%, that is good for this yearly volume, they run 2 shifts (8 hrs each). All employees wear red Quattro gmbh overalls, they have a different contract even. They call it the silver line referring to older, experienced workers with (less and) ’grey’ hair…. The operators are not under time pressure, assembly steps are timely well designed to have much more self-control than usual. Body preproduction is full of advanced technology with aluminium welding and flow screwing, quality control is extreme good on the assembled body. Saw some rework on one alu body though, that was told to be a right wheeled car… I lifted some huge body parts – they were weightless.
After painting the assembly is done on a real line, again lots of control, a full book of signed control sheets leave the area with the car. Small group of people rotates within the work cell, one of them (different day-by-day) prepares material for the next car within the specified time frame, all self-sustaining. All tools and fixtures are very well designed, but not overdone – simple solutions that work, easy to modify (improve). It is really a small line where you can see ownership. I saw interesting things like Lambo sign casted on the gearbox hsg, beautiful engines (coming from the hungarian factory), lots of silver and many white cars (most of them to middle east a they say), surprisingly low nr of blacks, only one or two daytona, red or blue. Maybe it was just the mix of that day. I have learned that ceramic brakes can be ordered in two weeks max. Final car inspected in more stations, they spend almost half an hour by inspecting the paintwork after assy. There was quite a few cars at rework though, obviously a good group to confirm my color combo choice… I wasn’t able to take pictures – not allowed at all.
We also took an extra look at the A6/new A4 line, saw their own fire brigade (running from their trucks into the R8 hall just after we left, but seen no smoke…), saw a car accident (components delivery forklift running into a brand new white S5 leaving to outside test), and a lot of building extensions (hearing about 230 Mio EUR investment in the next one year or so).
Anyone not been there, go. Definetely worth the time and pain of travel. This is the car Audi wants to show the world what they are capable of, it is their crown line and model, and it handled that way.
I also visited PPI for the carbon parts, details are in the related thread.
 

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SK1 -

Great post!! thank you so much. Very interesting to read a "professionals" viewpoint on the process. Any speculation on how they will handle the extra production numbers of Roadsters, and V10's? Maybe just cut back on 'normal' R8's? Or will the 230MM investment build a larger facility?

Tritone
 

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Thank you for the comprehensive write up. I want to go but was discouraged
by my uninformed salesman. It just shows that the US dealers really do not know very much about what they are selling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I asked for the V10 (not for the spider) but they said it is not released yet (approved by management). In the production area I have seen no sign whatsoever of any prod line extensions. The place itself is not crowded, but I do not think they can squeeze in huge additional workplaces, the building is pretty occupied. They run however in 5 days 2 shift model (8hrs/shift), that gives obvious room for longer shifts or extra shifts (night, weekends).
As I wrote there are huge constructions ongoing, so I do not think it would be a problem to add more space though. But not tomorrow...
 
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