Saturday, 11 June 2011

General Motors Assembly Plant Tour -- June 10th, 2011

Today I went on a tour of the GM plant in Oshawa. Wow! It's enormous! The manufacturing process is incredible. I'd been on a similar tour at the same plant decades ago with an engineering group I belonged to at the time-- long enough ago that this tour today was for the most part, new to me. :-)

The design of the plant itself, so that all the right components meet the line at the right time for the right vehicle is extremely impressive. From an engineering point of view, it had to require a tremendous number of man-years of planning to design.

The line we saw was producing 2011 Camaros. The production rate is 54 per hour or over  500 a day. More than 3.6 million Camaros have been manufactured at the Oshawa plant since the car was launched in 1966.

This was our first view-- unpainted bodies.

This gave us a chuckle. Someone earlier in the line is obviously a Boston Bruins fan. As of the tour day, the Stanley Cup series was tied 2-2.

In this shot I just tried to capture a feel of the size of the plant. This is a small fraction of it. The two bodies near the center of the shot are Chevy Equinoxes-- also made in this plant.

If I ever bought a Camaro it'd be red! Red & yellow were the most popular colors on the line today.

The passenger-side doors are in the next shot. They're on a drive chain that takes them "upstairs" a level, then down the other side of the line, at just the required rate to get the matching colored doors to the other side at the same time as the matching door is on this side. Slick.

The seats are added here.

The engines (made in St. Catharines) that will match up with the appropriate vehicle.

An engine that's ready to be installed.

Floor robots that bring the chassis (frame, engine, transmission, axles,...) to meet the body.

At this point the chassis rises up to meet the body. I tried to upload a 30 second video clip of this operation to this blog but I had problems so I uploaded it to YouTube. You can view it by clicking on this link >>>

Almost done. The line behind the Camaros are Chevy Impalas, the third GM car produced at the plant.

A closer look at the Impala line. I wanted to get this shot since I drive an Impala that looks like the one here-- tho mine is older. It's one of the best cars I've ever owned. I love it.

We talked to a girl at the end of the line where the cars are started up and head out the door to the customers. I asked her if it ever happens that a car won't start when it's time to drive it off the line, to which she replied, "Once in a while, it's called a push-off".
She then checked the electronic board that was above us and said today's run so far was at 99.1% meaning that 99.1% had come off the line with no problems at all.

And yesterday she said there was a 6 hour stretch at 100%. Though things are checked throughout the line, things can still go wrong but 99-100% sounds impressive to me when you see what's involved in making a car and all the sub-assemblies, etc. that go into each one.

When you figure how far and long we can drive our cars these days with no problems at all, and thinking about what's under that metal skin, I'm more than a little impressed.

- fini -



At 13 June 2011 at 21:55 , Anonymous Denis said...

Thanks for sharing your GM tour, very interesting..



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