Working the Line: What’s It’s Like To Build a Volvo S60

​Nobody’s ever asked me personally to come work in a car factory. The reason why for that are fairly obvious: Industrial facilities could be dangerous to me, and I might be dangerous to the product. The car businesses are probably more worried about that 2nd part—digits can be reattached, but tires can’t, once I cross-thread all of the studs. It takes a long time to build the reputation for quality, but an extremely short time for me to install your turbocharged backwards.

Despite a few inherent risks, Volvo invited me to come build a 2019 S60 at their new one, 600-acre plant in Charleston, SOUTH CAROLINA. That means they have a lot confidence within me, or maybe just confidence within their quality control procedures.

Clocking In Some Volvos are still just a little boxy.

Gary Coleman for Volvo Cars America

Just before showing up at the Volvo factory, I actually made a pit stop at TJ Maxx to buy yourself some khakis (some Izod chinos to be precise). Why? Because you can’t have rivets on your clothing when you’re operating next to freshly painted cars, and yes it would be weird to wear suit jeans while slinging a torque wrench tool.

After that, I am just suited up with an orange polo shirt and steel-reinforced sneakers—built regarding maximum comfort and maximum bottom protection. Suitably attired, new employees are sent for training in the particular processes that will apply out on the particular factory floor. The goals are basic: stay safe, build perfect vehicles, and do it all quickly.

To learn the programs, you’re dispatched to a practice range where the “cars” are wooden containers with crude parts you’ll have to bolt on as the line movements. For a given component, you need to confirm the part number before you start slinging hammers. You need to make sure your power tool is rotating in the right direction, and that you are fastening the part with the right nut products.

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“The goals are simple: stay safe, construct perfect cars, and do it all rapidly. “

None of that sounds too challenging, but when you’ve got multiple parts to install while the car body moves inexorably toward the next station, discombobulation makes its presence felt quick. When that happens, you have 1 recourse: pull the cable the particular runs above your station and prevent the line.

On the Volvo plant, any worker could possibly stop the line for any reason. When somebody pulls the cord, a music starts blasting—a different song for every area, so a supervisor will begin to know which spot needs assist. In the training room, it’s “Welcome to the Jungle. ” My request to change that to Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business” is certainly swiftly rebuffed.

Bring In the Automated programs Mega-Wrench, ready to bolt.

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