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The new Rüsselsheim plant has a planned annual capacity of around 270,000 cars, manufactured on a joint production line in three shifts. The facility, which is being built along the lines of the Opel production plant in Eisenach, is one of the biggest projects in the company's DM 9 billion investment program in Germany.

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Opel AG: The New Ruesselsheim Plant 2002


New Opel plant in Rüsselsheim - 21st-Century Car Production

  • Productivity, quality and flexibility reach new highs

  • 1.5 billion mark investment safeguards jobs

  • 270,000 cars-per-year production capacity

  • Biggest employee training program in the company's history

  • New milestones in virtual design

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With its state-of-the art production facility in Rüsselsheim, Opel is aiming to set new standards in terms of productivity, quality and flexibility when the all-new, mid-size Vectra goes into production in 2002. Says Opel's Managing Director, Carl-Peter Forster: "Thanks to the unwavering application of the further enhanced Opel production system, advanced manufacturing layouts and innovative working structures, we have created the best possible conditions here in Rüsselsheim for assuming a leading international market position."


Opel is investing around DM 1.5 billion in the new facilities, which are being built alongside the existing Rüsselsheim plant without affecting ongoing production - an unprecedented achievement in the automotive industry. The new plant will safeguard jobs in vehicle manufacture at the site over the long term.

The new Rüsselsheim plant has a planned annual capacity of around 270,000 cars, manufactured on a joint production line in three shifts. The facility, which is being built along the lines of the Opel production plant in Eisenach, is one of the biggest projects in the company's DM 9 billion investment program in Germany. Investment in the plant itself - excluding product-related investment - is estimated at DM 820 million.

  • Focus on Quality

Excellent quality is a fundamental requirement for high customer satisfaction. Apart from having a mature product from the very beginning, this calls for advanced manufacturing methods and the full involvement of all employees and suppliers. The biggest internal training program in the company's history is a key factor in achieving the highest quality levels in the new plant in Rüsselsheim. Along the lines of the "zero fault principle", the Opel teams first learn to avoid faults in production and secondly not to pass any on down the line or to accept any. To accompany this, optimum ergonomic design of the individual production areas is absolutely essential for creating the ideal working environment that is needed to adhere to this principle.

The job of the special start-up teams from Opel's International Technical Development Center (ITDC) is to ensure that series production can go ahead smoothly. One of the methods used for this is the so-called "bucket build" concept, the basic principle of which is a staggered pre-production phase in the newly installed facilities, each with periodical optimization cycles. The advantage of this procedure is that it allows for continuous, step-by-step optimization with verifiable product readiness. Another strength of the "bucket build" concept is that the specialists from development and production work together closely, which means that the project can progress swiftly from both angles. Opel's engineers have already had good experience with this concept during the start-ups for the Zafira, Agila and Corsa, so it was only logical that they should adopt this proven process for the new Vectra, too.

A number of measures have been taken to guarantee high product quality from the start. For implementing the zero-fault principle, Andon systems (Andon = light signal) are installed at every station to help prevent defective parts being produced, received or passed on down the line. In addition, two cords are positioned at each work station - the so-called "Andon cords". If an employee pulls the yellow cord, a light and an acoustic signal are triggered, requesting help from other members of the team. Pulling the red cord stops the assembly line until the problem has been solved. In addition, specific quality controls are integrated into the production line. For example, around 150 robot-controlled laser measurements ensure dimensional accuracy of the body shell. Besides this, ultrasonic tests ensure maximum weld quality in the production cells. The "Standardized Inspection Process" (SIP) functions in the same way as the Andon system and monitors the quality at the end of each production stage - for example, in the stamping and body shops or any one of the final assembly areas. A complete check list with all the necessary quality criteria ensures that a part can only move on to the next stage if it achieves perfect results. Finally, computer simulations have made an important contribution towards optimizing processes and designing them ergonomically.

  • From Virtual Factory to 21st Century Reality

For the design and planning of the new plant in Rüsselsheim, Opel's production specialists at the ITDC relied more extensively on 3D layouts and innovative simulation tools than ever before. It is a field in which Opel has already amassed a great deal of expertise, achieving considerable recognition throughout the industry. The three-dimensional computer animations make it possible to depict reality to a level of nearly 100 percent. The deployment of such new technologies has led to previously unattained levels of reliability in the planning of the new plant and in the preparations for production start-up.

Such systems have made it possible, for example, to simulate for the first time the highly complex final assembly area. Other sections that can also be simulated completely by computer models are the assembly and the body shop. In addition, the simulation experts at the ITDC in Rüsselsheim, were involved with tool design in the stamping shop, the logistics concept and workplace ergonomics.

Photos: Adam Opel AG


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