A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of cars say that they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four wheels, and mainly transport people rather than goods.
How do you Make a Car?
Press Plant: The Beginning of it all
- A car is built from the outside, so it takes shape in the body. Huge steel coils, weighing approximately 20 tons, arrive at the pressing plant.
- Once here, they go through a train of rollers so that the steel loses its curvature and, later, hydraulic presses cut it to the appropriate size of the piece for which that sheet or plate is destined.
- At Ford’s plant in Almusafes, these huge steel coils last between an hour and a half and two hours, since, for example, 20 roof pieces are cut per minute or 40 door pieces per minute.
- With the steel rolls sectioned to the appropriate size, the plates go to the stamping phase.
- In Navarra at the Volkswagen factory, this first step is not carried out since the sheets supply by an external supplier and arrive at the pressing plant already cut, placed on specific pallets and ready for stamping.
- With the steel at room temperature, it is the press’s weight, with the specific diet for the body’s part to create (roof, door, hood, etc.), which cuts, drills and gives the final shape the region.
- With each blow, the presses at the Seat factory in Martorell, for example, exert a force equivalent to the weight of 500 cars.
- It gives an idea of these machines’ power, which repeat the same in the Spanish plant case. Manoeuvre 6.4 million times a year.
- It is also here where all the necessary holes are made to receive the screws and other anchors.
- For example, each Ford model manufactured in Almusafes has between 1,500 and 1,600 holes, each intended for a specific function.
- When this process is complete, a check perform. Here each manufacturer follows its protocol.
Sheet Metal Plant: The Car is Taking Shape
- In the pressing plant, all the necessary body parts for the vehicle create. The Citroën C4 Cactus, which manufacture exclusively for everyone in the plant that the brand has in Madrid, has 360.
- The pieces ready have come to fit the first pieces of the puzzle: to assemble and weld each of the parts that will shape the body.
- At the beginning of the first section, we said that car manufacture from the outside. It should also be added that its manufacturers from the bottom up and in two phases.
- In the first, the car’s floor assembles and welded. The Ford factory does it in 58 seconds, and, later, the wheel arches, dashboard, sides install until reaching the roof.
- In the second phase, already with the “figurehead” made, the body’s moving parts (doors, hood…) and the wings add.
- With all the elements assembled, several robots scan, using laser technology, the entire bodywork and, above all, check that the clearance between the parts is correct. Here the tolerance margin is minimal.
- The sheet metal plant incredibly automate. For example, at the Volkswagen factory in Navarra, more than 600 robots do 95% of the work and, at the PSA plant in Madrid, the same thing happens, there are more machines than men.
- Specifically, 220 robots are in charge of completing the first two construction stages of the Citroën C4 Cactus and have the bodywork ready, after more than 3,000 welding points, in more or less 7 hours.
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Painting Plant: Restricted Access Area
- The application of paint to the body is one of the most delicate processes in the car’s manufacture. Any imperfection, however minimal, will return the vehicle to the initial point of this phase.
- Precisely, to avoid possible problems, the painting plant has a dust-free environment. It a restrict access area, and to enter. It is necessary to put on special suits and go through a blower that removes any dirt or pollutant.
- The first thing that does at this stage is to subject the body to a high-pressure wash.
- And various chemical treatments to achieve a uniform surface, free of any grease.
- The projections from the press and sheet metal workshops do not conduct electricity and are resistant to corrosion.
- After this initial step, the cataphoresis bath carries out. Submerged in swimming pools, where an electrophoresis process occurs, the body subject to electrical tension. And the sheet, which acts as a cathode, attracts the dissociated paint particles.
- This first coat of paint aims to prevent corrosion by completely submerging the bodywork to protect every corner. Next, several robots apply the putties that guarantee the tightness of the car.
- Finally, we reach the phase in which the paint that the end customer will see apply. First, the interior paint.
- This task carries out at the Volkswagen plant by 8 robots, but, for example, at the PSA plant, it carries out by several operators.
- Finally, the exterior of the car paint with a drying oven, case of the Ford factory, subjects the body to a temperature of 150º for 15 minutes, the process ends.
- At the Seat factory in Martorell, more than 6 million kilos of paint used at the end of the year, which would be enough to paint the Eiffel Tower 300 times.
Assembly Plant: Engines Start for the First Time
- This is the last stage of the car manufacturing process. Here the bodywork, the powertrain and the rest of the elements that make up the car come together.
- Interestingly, the first thing to do in the assembly area is to disassemble the doors.
- The reason is none other than facilitating the installation of the rest of the car’s interior elements. From this point on, each manufacturer has its action protocol, so the car components’ order differs.
- At the PSA plant in Madrid, the assembly line is 1,600 meters long, and 200 people are in charge of dressing the armour so that the more than 1,000 parts make up the Citroën C4 Cactus fit together perfectly.
- Each operator assigns particular tasks that they have to carry out in less than two minutes.
- After a year, the Seat factory in Martorell assembles 1.3 billion parts. It would be equivalent to producing 330 Airbus A-380s, the largest commercial aircraft in the world.
- The assembly plant is the one with the most significant human intervention. Of course, they help machines move some parts, such as the dashboard, which comes in one piece and already has all the wiring, pedals, etc.
- In the Volkswagen plant in Navarra, where the Polo manufacture, the first elements to incorporate into the vehicle are the weatherstripping on the doors and tailgate, the rear seat belts and the airbag control unit.
- Next, the dashboard assembly, headliner and other elements such as sunshades, pillars, courtesy lights, etc.
- The moons mount last. The following operation performs on the car’s underside with the placement of brake and fuel pipes. The car is now ready to receive the engine.
- When the mechanics reach the bodywork to mount on the vehicle, it already has elements such as the exhaust system, transmission, rear axle or steering column attached.
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