A robot to love
Our colleagues in Mexico produce 2,200 front axles for the automotive market every day. It’s safe to say that they could use some robotic support. We stop by the Puebla plant and can’t get over how cute the little helpers are.
Surprise! We do much more than just construct elevators for the World Trade Center, trade raw materials on 5th Avenue, and design enormous fertilizer plants. Yes, thyssenkrupp is also a leading global supplier of components for the automotive industry. You’ll find our components built into nine out of ten cars in the premium class.
One front axle in 150 minutes, please
This week we visit Mexico, where our axis modules for the North American automotive market are manufactured. And because thyssenkrupp is growing with its customers, receiving more orders has to go hand-in-hand with an increase in capacity. That’s why our plant in Puebla was expanded this past February (By the way, Puebla is a city full of charm and home to two million people, yet local inhabitants of the capital often refer to it as a village). The plant covers an area of 11,000 square meters and manufactures axles for 2,200 vehicles every day at intervals of just 45 seconds on the production line. A total of just 150 minutes elapse between the time the order is made and delivery to the customer’s location. The production process is calculated so precisely that each component arrives at the VW plant at the exact moment that it needs to be built into the vehicle. This ‘just in time process’ reduces storage cost in particular.
The music of Mozart in the production halls
I’m surprised to see who is lending a hand to the 240 employees at the plant: It’s an ice cream truck. Of course, it’s not a real one. It’s a real robot that travels around the plant to the popular Mozart tune often played by ice cream trucks. “Our colleagues used to cover ten to 12 kilometers a day just walking back and forth to transport components between the production lines,” explains Production Manager Ramiró López Gaona. “Our little ice cream truck takes care of that job for us now.”
When driving around the plant, the robot doesn’t stray an inch from the track marked out on the floor. It looks a bit like an ultra-modern vacuum cleaner gliding over the ground automatically. Arriving at its stations, the robot locks into a metal rack onto which the components are loaded. It then transports them from A to B. No matter where you are in the plant, you can’t get away from the safety tune. “We change the song pretty regularly,” says Gaona, with a laugh. I know I’ll be hearing Mozart’s Symphony Number 40 in my dreams tonight.