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Automotive assembly with nothing to hide

November 13, 2011

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An automotive assembly plant with oak hardwood floors transparent glass walls? There's such a place, and it's where Volkswagon builds its luxury Phaeton model. It's located in the heart of Dresden, Germany, and it fits in like a luxury hotel.
Parts are delivered to VW's Dresden assembly plant on a street car.
Parts are delivered to VW's Dresden assembly plant on a street car.

Over the course of my 12 years in automotive journalism, I have visited car and truck assembly plants in the U.S. and Canada as well as Germany, Japan and Sweden. I've never seen the likes of this plant, but thanks to YouTube, it's on display for the world to see.

If you have the luxury of seven minutes to waste on YouTube video, you should check out this one.

Obviously all of the dirty, noisy and smelly parts of automotive production are done elsewhere, like the casting, welding and painting. The pre-assembled parts are delivered to this assembly line by what Volkswagon calls a CarGo Tram. It's an electric train that shares the city's street car tracks. Presumably, few if any trucks actually deliver parts to the plant, minimizing noise and congestion in the city's downtown core where the plant is located.

The video doesn't delve into the logistics of getting parts in from suppliers and staging them on the CarGo Tram, but even I can see certain efficiencies in using such a system to keep the plant stocked.

You wouldn't expect to see heavy trucks rolling off a line like this one, but to be fair, some of North America's truck assembly facilities are getting close. Almost gone are the dingy, noisy and stinky factories of yesteryear, and in there place are emerging environmentally and ergonomically friendly assembly facilities that are well lit, reasonably quiet, and highly automated.

I should mention that part of the engine dressing line at Volvo's Hagerstown engine assembly plant has hardwood floors. There are no glass walls there just yet, but if you haven't had the pleasure of visiting one of our North American truck assembly plants, I'm sure you'd be surprised by what you saw.

Here's the YouTube video of the Volkswagon's transparent auto assembly plant in Dresden Germany:

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Author Bio

Jim Park

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Equipment Editor

Truck journalist 13 years, commercial driver 20 years. Joined us in 2007. Specializes in technical/equipment material (including Tire Report), brings real-world perspective to test drives.


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