Manufacturing capability is, without a doubt, one of Geely Group’s most substantial assets. We looked at ZEEKR’s “Intelligent Factory” a few months ago, a 5G-connected, virtually proven, clean, and efficient factory for manufacturing the next generation of electric cars.
Another tour-de-force in vehicle manufacturing prowess can be found a few hundred kilometers away, in a tranquil village near Lake Taihu: Geely Auto’s “5G Connected Factory,” one of the Group’s newest production sites. Let’s look inside.
How it is Built for Production
Currently, the facility only produces Geely Auto’s 4th generation Emgrand. That this plant has been tasked with creating this 4th generation of vehicles speaks volumes about the high expectations that they have been placed on it. The factory’s official manufacturing capacity is 30 automobiles per hour, equating to one vehicle every two minutes. Keeping up with the high demand for cars like the Emgrand necessitates such production quantities.
How You Stamp out Imperfections
Fourteen molds currently form the outer body of the 4th Gen Emgrand. The molds are supplied by the same companies that provide Rolls Royce and Porsche — automobiles sold at a little higher price than Geely Auto’s.
Because of this level of engineering, the molds have an error threshold of less than half a millimeter during the stamping process. And this is less than the thickness of a strand of hair!
The welding facility in Changxing is 100 percent automated and can weld to a super-thin 3.5mm, as is typical of the Group. However, this is only just the start of the factory’s automation; you can’t go ten meters without running into one of the many AGVs (automated guided vehicles) continually moving throughout the facility.
These vehicles all have very particular jobs to accomplish as they go around (playing Kenny G’s calming tunes to alert you to their existence). This could be something as simple as replenishing front section side panels in the soldering shop or delivering a delivery cart full of parts to someone on the final assembly line. But how does each robot figure out what it needs to do? This is where the factory’s name, 5G, comes into play.
A factory-wide, super-fast 5G+ network creates a net of connectivity that allows devices and cloud services to communicate seamlessly. Inventory levels, manufacturing status, and AGV positions are updated live in online data entries. With this knowledge, these robots will never make a mistake in their deliveries. They will choose the best robot for the job and perform the mission. Each of these robots will distribute up to 7,000 parts to those in need on any given day.
How You Control Quality
Quality control must be maintained with such a high production capacity (one vehicle every two minutes!). Each car is put through a 2.4 km’ assault course’ with a total of 80 tests that examine performance, handling, mechanical, and electronics after leaving the factory. They only allow those who have passed to depart.
The automobiles are put through a three-part rain seal test to assess how well they hold up to various volumes of water:
- A 360-degree rain test.
- 3-minute downpour.
- A 3-hour typhoon simulator to ensure not a single drop gets in.
While the factory is operating at total capacity, they will construct a second line soon to create even more cars and models. When that time comes, the factory may require a 6G upgrade to keep up with demand.