Saturday, August 9, 2014

A visit to the Audi factory in Ingolstadt, Germany. Part 2


The lobby of Audi's corporate headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany

What was so good about a visit to the Audi car factory in Ingolstadt, Germany, you might be wondering.

First, it was an eye-opener in terms of the manufacturing process.



The Audi factory and museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.
A vintage Audi bike on display.

The entire plant is clean and beautiful.

The corporate offices are uber-cool in design while the factory is so clean that someone could probably roll around its floor with no qualms.

No kidding. Not a speck of dust, no sign of oil, no mess anywhere. We could have eaten lunch on the floor.

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CLEAN AND QUIET,
AND FULL OF ART

It was clean and quiet. No one shouted or talked in a voice.

And everyone wore clothes without zippers or buttons so as not to scratch the cars, and used bicycles to get around. There were even paintings and art on the walls of this mammoth assembly line floor.

Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to bring in our phones or cameras so I'm only posting photos of the cars.


THE PROPER AUDI TOUR

But we did the two-hour Audi factory tour.

Again, I was practically dragged kicking and screaming to this. But by the middle part I was just as fascinated as the others.

Audi rolls out 2700 cars out of this plant everyday -- that's a lot of work -- and this kind of volume really requires clockwork efficiency.

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THREE SHIFTS,
SIX DAYS A WEEK

They operate three shifts round-the-clock except on Sundays:


6 AM to 230 PM
230 PM to 10 PM
10 PM to 6 AM

The evening shift is the most difficult, of course, but it also pays better.

Our guide said: "Young couples who have just bought or built a house usually like to take this shift."

Reception for all guests to the Audi factory

ROBOTS RULE HERE

Over 95% of the manufacturing process is done by robots. And seeing a whole floor of robots at work was really fascinating.

There were no humans anywhere -- just robots and car parts or parts of cars being rolled to them via conveyor belts.

It was all very sci-fi in feel.

The Audi factory and museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.
We were thinking of trading in our rental car for this...

The end process, however, is done by real people -- and that, too, was a big eye-opener. There was no noise, no stray actions, no things out of place.

Just people smiling but working seriously on car after car after car

The Audi factory and museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.
A legendary Audi race car.

MARRIAGE EVERY 2 MINUTES

The last part of the process is the highlight of the factory visit. This is when the body of the car and the chassis are put together to actually make a proper car.

Until then, it's just parts being welded, cleaned, painted or screwed on.

In Audi speak, this moment is a "marriage," and a marriage takes place every two minutes here at the Audi factory in Ingolstadt.

The Audi factory and museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.
The famous Audi race car used at Le Mans.
UP CLOSE AND REALLY PERSONAL

The other interesting detail is how personalized some Audi fans want their cars.

Our guide told us about a lady who sent in her favorite lipstick so that the designers at Audi could make up a color for her car that exactly matched this shade.

Then there was the man who sent in his necktie -- yes, he wanted some color on his necktie for his car.


One of the two restaurants for Audi visitors.
Pretty good, casual food.

ONE IN 2700 

The entire process made me much more appreciative of cars.

I really think of them just as something I ride in; but on that visit, I saw them for the first time as works of art.


Not the one-in-a-million kind perhaps, as those are rare, complicated, and difficult; but certainly the one in 2700 a day type.

As for this visit in its entirety, it certainly made for another interesting day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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