“Changing your clothes in your closet”
The conversion project started in the summer of 2018 with modernization of the production lines. The first of two assembly lines will be set up on a step-by-step basis until the scheduled launch of ID. production in November 2019. That includes comprehensive modernization and renewal of the body shop, paint shop, assembly facilities and infrastructure. Among other things, the entire conveyor systems need to be readied for electric cars, which are heavier than their conventional counterparts.
The site’s second assembly line will be converted following the same pattern by the end of 2020, and start operations that same year. “Conversion work at the plant is proceeding rapidly and is right on schedule,” says de Vries.
“It’s like changing your clothes in your closet,” he comments and then explains: “While we are expanding and optimizing our plant here in Zwickau, we are also working in parallel to automate and digitalize our entire production facilities.” Some 9,000 tons of new steel are being used in the building work, around 50,000 square meters of hall space are being constructed, and 1,625 robots are being set up. Fifty partner companies are supporting the conversion project. Thirty percent of the existing systems are being reused.
And if that weren’t enough restructuring, all 8,000 employees are also being qualified for their new tasks in a major further training campaign. All of them are attending informational events on e-mobility. Around 3,000 are completing a program at the e-mobility training center that gives them detailed preparation for the new production requirements. Around 1,500 employees are earning what is called a high-voltage license. “By the end of 2019 the Zwickau team will have spent a total of 13,000 days in training,” says Holger Naduschewski, Managing Director of the Group’s Training Institute responsible for these measures.