In 1913, an innovation in automobile manufacture was born when Ford Motors experimented with winches and ropes to pull the chassis down a line while the assemblers stood in one place with their parts piles. The old process where workers moved in teams down the line, receiving their car parts from "parts runners" at each chassis as they arrived, was replaced by the automated assembly line, thus radically reducing by about 70 percent the original 17-hour labor input in the traditional moving team system. Since then, cars began to be produced with increasing flexibility and economy.
The State-of-the-Art BMW Plant in Leipzig
The newly-opened manufacturing plant of BMW in Leipzig, Germany boasts of a high-tech assembly line that transports the chassis from one production station to another with the speed and ease that carries with it the promise of producing the planned capacity of 650 BMW vehicles per day by 2007. Located in three buildings arranged in a circle around the open-structure central building, the assembly line production is clearly visible to all employees. This pioneering architecture not only aims to promote transparency and communication among employees, but also reflects a plant-within-a-plant principle in which the operations are divided into three smaller operating units with focused objectives, namely, (1) the construction of the main framework, (2) the paint job, and (3) the assembly of other remaining car parts.
As far as operations are concerned, the site of the youngest BMW plant offers several advantages: accessibility (geographical center of Germany) from the BMW Group's existing supplier network; abundance in potential employees (the region has...
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...be increased within just a few months. This forward-looking, visionary approach serves as added proof that the most modern BMW plant had built on all the automotive engineering know-how accumulated by the company in all its 75 years of experience.
"A Plant takes Shape." BMW Website. 2004. April 16, 2005. .
"Automotive History The Assembly Line." Ideafinder.com. 2004. April 15, 2005. .
BMW Virtual Plant Tour. BMW Website. 2004. April 15, 2005.
Boston, William. "Off the Dole and On the Assembly Line." Business Week Website October 4, 2004, issue 3902. April 15, 2005. .
Reid, Sanders. "Process Selection" and "Capacity Planning and Facility Location." Operations Management (A Student Companion). 2004. April 15, 2005. .
Vasilash, Gary S. "Advances in Putting Things Together." Automotive Design and Production.com. March 2003. April 15, 2005. .
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