The GM Europe Russelheim, Germany Factory

Posted on 17. Jun, 2008 by in 2000-2009, 9-5 NG, Russelheim, Germany

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Photo Credit: GM Europe

The GM Europe Russelsheim factory originally began in 1862 when GM’s brand Opel started. However, their current modern factory that replaced the old factory was completed and put into place in Russelsheim, Germany in 2002.

It is also worth noting that the GM Europe Russelsheim factory is within the same complex as the GM Europe Design center

Here is some information below from older press releases that should help us learn more about this factory:

Address:
Adam Opel Haus
D-65423 Rüsselsheim
Germany

Telephone: 49-6142-660
Fax: 49-6142-664-859
http://www.opel.com

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December 7, 2001

Pre-Production Starts at the World’s Most Modern Car Plant

Opel facility sets new standards in productivity, quality and flexibility

Rüsselsheim. The all-new Vectra has moved another step closer to its launch in spring 2002, with the start of pre-production at Opel’s ultra-modern new Rüsselsheim facility. When series production begins next January, the aim is for the world’s most modern automobile plant to achieve the highest quality standards from day one. Opel Chairman and Managing Director, Carl-Peter Forster: “The new plant represents the state-of-the-art in productivity, quality and flexibility. This will put the cars we build in Russelsheim in a strong position to regain a leading role on the international market.”

Opel’s manufacturing experts set themselves three main goals: top quality at start of series production, starting with the first new Vectra to leave the assembly line; optimization of innovative production processes and technologies; and fine-tuning of the modified working procedures by the specially-trained workforce. Arno Wiedenroth, Director of the Russelsheim plant: “Top quality has absolute priority. We are paying maximum attention to every detail as we approach start of production. Everything is going according to plan.”

A special pre-production process has made a major contribution to the smooth preparations for the start of production at Opel’s new Russelsheim plant. This innovative concept was already adopted for the launches of the Zafira, the Agila and the Corsa, as a means of ensuring a very high level of quality right from the start. The main features are an initial pre-pilot phase, using the actual production equipment for pilot phases I to III, and interlinking pilot phase III with pre-production. The manufacturing specialists in Rüsselsheim are thus beginning to feed an increasing number of new Vectra cars into the actual production line. The procedure is repeated until the process stabilizes and the required throughput volume and cycle times are achieved. The pre-production process continues to be accompanied by an employee training program which began in fall 1999, and is the most extensive in the company’s history.

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February 5, 2002

Chancellor Schrader Opens World’s Most Modern Car Plant

The GM Europe Russellheim Factory

* High productivity and quality, maximum flexibility and excellent ergonomics

* All-new Vectra is first model off the line

Russelsheim. Opel’s new production facility in Russelsheim was officially opened today by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The new automobile plant sets new standards and can claim to be the most modern anywhere in the world. High productivity, strict quality assurance, maximum flexibility and exemplary standards of ergonomics are among the features of this advanced automobile production facility, which has been designed and constructed according to the Opel Production System at a cost of some 750 million Euro. This record investment, higher than any other German automobile manufacturer has spent in recent years on a similar new plant, will guarantee some 6000 jobs in component and vehicle production at Opel’s Rüsselsheim facility.

In his speech at the opening ceremony attended by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Opel’s Chairman and Managing Director, Carl-Peter Forster said: “The start-up of our new plant signals the start of Opel’s future. Our new production facility in Russelsheim sets the standards for the entire automobile industry.” Among the guests at the opening event were the Prime Minister of the German State of Hesse, Roland Koch, and the Mayor of Rüsselsheim, Stefan Gieltowski. Koch described the company’s commitment to its home site on the River Main as an important step toward the long-term success of the State of Hesse as an industrial location.

Opel has traditionally played a leading role in implementing forward-looking production systems. When the Opel Production System was first implemented at the company’s Eisenach facility, it influenced modern automobile production the world over. Work on that plant, in the German State of Thuringia, began in 1992, and even today it is regarded as the pacesetter for a second industrial revolution. The concept has been continuously enhanced and has now reached the stage represented by the new production facility in Russelsheim. However, dynamic processes have been part of the Opel Production System from the very outset and will ensure that production processes will continue to be optimized in line with future developments. This dynamic approach will keep the new production plant at the forefront of automobile production and ensure that it continues to supply high-quality products.

The complete Russelsheim plant began life on the computer. Everything from the structure of the buildings to the plant layout and optimized work procedures was developed in virtual reality. The engineers and programmers made extensive use of three-dimensional plant and design plans and innovative simulation tools. Three-dimensional computer animation permits actual conditions to be depicted with such accuracy that the simulation experts’ forecasts are never more than one percent removed from reality in the completed plant.

Quality Assurance Program for Zero Defects

The first model to leave the production lines is the all-new Opel Vectra, which will shortly be bidding for a leading position in the midsize automobile market. At full three-shift capacity, the plant is capable of building up to 270,000 vehicles annually. Both the installed machinery and the organizational structures are highly flexible, to ensure that all versions of the new Vectra that pass down the line are subjected to a comprehensive, integral quality assurance program. This efficient quality control system is based on the ‘zero defects’ principle. No employee at any point in the production pro-cess is permitted to accept a defective item from a preceding work station or deliver defective work of their own to the next stage in the production process. To enable the workforce to put this principle into practice, a whole series of measures has been implemented. The most important instrument is every employee’s entitlement to bring the production line to a halt if there is a risk of the stringent quality criteria not being met. In addition to this, the Quality Assurance staff checks every vehicle according to precisely defined standards. An example of their work is the Standardized Inspection Process (SIP). Its work stations are situated immediately after the body-in-white, painting, initial and final assembly areas. The specially trained Quality Assurance employees put the vehicles through tough tests at each stage in the production process.

Among the central elements in this all-encompassing quality strategy are inspection systems independent of the production staff, and also many designed-in features of the new Vectra model program. For example, Opel’s development engineers have designed the plug connectors for the passive safety systems such as the front, side and full-size curtain airbags in such a way that incorrect or faulty assembly is ruled out from the start. In addition, special assembly-tool systems check that each operation has been performed correctly. If the specified criteria such as tightening torques are not complied with in the case of safety-relevant equipment such as the steering, seat belts or seats, these ‘intelligent’ tightening tools transmit a warning signal to Production Control and the line is halted until the correct setting has been restored. There are other high-tech inspection systems as well: for example, electronic camera systems supervise the fully-automatic installation of the windshield and rear window at the appropriate points on the assembly line.

Body in White: High Precision for Strength and Stability

The area in which the ‘body in white’ is built is one of the most crucial points in the production process. The Vectra’s stable bodyshell takes shape here in a series of stages. In the press shop, giant machines first form the coils of sheet steel into body panels and structural elements. The “suction transfer presses” installed here weigh about 3000 tons and represent an investment of 35 million Euro. Together they make up a transport system 61 meters long, 20 meters wide and 15 meters high. Pneumatically controlled suction pads with freely programmable movement patterns pick up the sheet-metal pressings and deliver them to the next of a total of five processing stations. This system saves time and, in contrast to a conventional plant with mechanical grippers, does away with the need for individual machining stations within the system itself. The fully automatic press shop equipment is supplied with pre-cut sheet metal blanks and shapes elements such as side panels, doors or roofs, at a rate of 15 per minute. This production rate is one of the highest anywhere in the automobile industry. After this, 650 robots assemble about 460 different sheet-metal parts rapidly and accurately into a complete bodyshell capable of withstanding heavy loads. In this area of the new plant, Opel’s engineering teams have not only installed the world’s most innovative fleet of robots and machines, but also adopted ultra-modern principles of versatility and work organization. There are flexible ‘production cells’ in which the robots make up to 4500 spot welds on each vehicle body fully automatically, apply adhesive or fold over the edges of sheet-metal panels, all to within an accuracy of a few tenths of a millimeter. They match the speed of the main assembly line and insert the finished body elements into the production flow without any intermediate storage being needed. Among the unusual technical features of this part of the plant are the ‘framing stations’, which guarantee the dimensional accuracy of the bodies-in-white. After these come two welding stations for the outer roof panel. They too are a highlight in modern vehicle body construction. A camera first checks the roof cutout in the body, then monitors the precise positioning of the outer panel. The next stage is for two high-energy lasers, each rated at four kilowatts, to weld the roof panel onto the bodyshell. The chosen method has considerable advantages over conventional spot welding equipment. First of all, the joint seams need no finishing work after welding. Furthermore, the production engineers do not need to allow for any openings in the roof frame to accommodate the spot welding tongs, so that the roof panel element can be made much more rigid.

The second area in which lasers are used also illustrates the exceptionally high technological standard achieved in this production area. Five versatile monitoring stations check the various stages in production and the finished bodies with the aid of special laser sensors and an electronic image processing system. The locations of a number of pre-defined points on the body are picked up by the laser beams. The reflected beams are projected by a mirror system onto special chips and evaluated by electronic image processing. In this way, deviations as small as one-tenth of a millimeter in the positions of cutouts or body panel edges can be detected. If the body elements or complete bodyshells fail to meet the specified quality standard, the production line is halted at once and the problem traced and eliminated. A further advantage of this method is that it acts as an effective early warning system for process control. The nominal and actual values are continuously compared, so that if the bodies or other elements begin to approach the dimensional tolerance limits, the production staff can take the necessary corrective action in good time. When the bodies leave this production area, they pass to the paint shop where they receive a brilliant, perfect surface finish. This is what the customer sees later: what can no longer be seen are the various immersion vat, primer coating, sealing and corrosion-proofing stages through which every Vectra has to pass in order to earn its 12-year anti-perforation warranty.

Final Assembly in the “Half-Star”

The ‘half-star’ measures 48,000 square meters and is the second-largest work area in the new Opel plant: the initial and final assembly stages. The planning team chose a star-shaped layout because this ingenious principle is the ideal way to satisfy the needs of modern motor-vehicle production: a clear overview of all production activities, the shortest possible distances between them – for both the employees and the flows of material – and efficient communication between production staff and teams working in adjacent areas. As at all other production stages, ergonomics played a key role in designing the individual work points, with invaluable support from the Works Council in achieving the ideal work-area design. An example of this successful cooperation: powered conveyors move the bodyshells through the assembly and position them automatically at the ideal height for each successive stage of work. Having to work with one’s hands over one’s head for long periods, for instance when installing the fuel tank or the fuel and brake lines, is now a thing of the past. These parts are now placed on a mobile assembly platform that moves up against the floor pan and bolts the parts into position. Other such measures include mechanical handling devices that avoid the need to lift any parts weighing more than ten kilograms. Last but not least, the assembly area’s star-shaped layout gives it an exceptionally long frontage, so that the remarkable total of 70 docking stations can be provided for materials to be delivered directly to the corresponding point on the assembly line. Materials and components are prepared for delivery to the line at intervals conforming precisely to production speed, either in the neighboring logistic center or in a newly built store for small components. This new logistic concept avoids the need for large storage warehouses and the complex pre-assembly work on the actual lines that was formerly needed.

The most important station of all in the assembly area is of course the ‘marriage’ between the pre-assembled body and the driveline and running gear. This too now takes place fully automatically. A photo-electric barrier synchronizes the body, on its overhead conveyor, with the assembly stand carrying the complete powertrain, suspension and exhaust system. The body is lowered and at the same time the assembly stand raised until these two main elements of the complete vehicle are united. At the next work station they are bolted together, also fully automatically, at 44 points. Electronic monitoring of the torque and tightening angle at all the relevant threaded connections ensures effective process control of all safety-relevant connections. This facility also avoids all trapped stresses and thus helps to eliminate noise being transmitted to the interior of the car that could disturb its occupants later.

Final OK After Successful Test Rig Run

Staff in the Final Inspection area use the very latest, ‘intelligent’ test rigs to give all Vectra models produced in the new plant their very first ‘test drive’. The ‘Dynamic Vehicle Test’, or DVT for short, runs through a full program of tests that simulate the loads to which the car will be subjected during its day-to-day life on the road. Before reaching the actual DVT roller test rig, front and rear wheel alignment are accurately checked on a laser-supported tester, and the settings adjusted automatically if necessary. The automatic headlamp beam angle adjustment and the electronic stability program (ESPplus) are also checked here. Next comes the actual DVT measurement program, which includes a brake test simulating actual practice, complete engine diagnosis and activation of the car’s electronic immobilizer. The speedometer reading is checked and also noise emissions from the engine and rear axle. After this, the staff put the new cars through a meticulous water test to ensure that the body is free from leaks. This is followed by the ‘electronic check-out system’, at which the electrical and electronic components and plugs are tested and the programs downloaded to various electronic systems. When this comprehensive list of tests and data transfers has been completed without any shortcomings the new Vectra is given the final seal of approval.

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