Henry Ford invented the present automotive production systems. And Toyota added lean production and JIT to the processes.
Now Musk, revolutionized the production with Tesla Gigafactory, outside of Reno, Nevada. It’s huge, you can see it from a mile away.
The name originates from the word ‘Giga,’ the unit of measurement representing ‘billion.’ Now it’s about 5.3 million square feet of operational space.
World’s largest building
The current footprint is the equivalent to about 33 American football fields. And it’s not finished yet either. Already there’s 7,000 employees working on site. There’s actually more spots for expectant mothers than just visitors.
Elon Musk has referred to the Gigafactory as the “machine that builds the machine,” and it’s all part of his master plan to make electric cars more affordable. Tesla is planning to do that by mass producing its own batteries.
Tesla says it currently produces more batteries in terms of kilowatts per hour than all other carmakers combined, making up about 60% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries.
Once completed, Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada is expected to be the largest building in the world by footprint. And while Tesla already has factories in California and New York, this is the first one that it’s completely built from scratch.
This factory produces Model 3 electric motors and battery packs, along with Tesla’s energy storage products, Powerwall and Powerpack. Panasonic is Tesla’s exclusive battery cell supplier for Model 3 and its plant is technically part of the Gigafactory.
The entire process is completely automated, there’s no human labor in this process. Each Model 3 vehicle requires more than 4,000 battery cells. And after the battery cells are assembled into modules, the modules are then assembled into packs.
The hand off between Panasonic and Tesla occurs through Automated Guided Vehicles. It’s kind of an autonomous forklift
The factory operates 24/7, and explosive growth in production output and new product innovation.
People and their meals
So, who are the people working here? They can be described as Passionate, scrappy, ambitious and very excited to change the world.
Not much human labor in some parts of the factory. Some areas are over 90% automated. But not everything has to be automated to make an optimal end-to-end manufacturing solution.
Lunch at the Gigafactory is a giga one too. In addition to the food trucks outside, there’s also a cafeteria where you can get things like soups, salads etc.
A net zero factory soon
Tesla says that once completed the Gigafactory will completely run off of renewable energy. Not just solar, but wind too.
And once the production is finally finished, this is expected to be the largest rooftop solar array in the world. That means 200,000 tiles on this roof alone.
It aims to be a net-zero factory when finished, which means the total amount of energy used by the building will be about equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site.
A high-speed crane system will get different variants down to this floor, very very quickly. The elevator system goes up and down three floors and it’s basically an automated warehouse.
Once the battery packs and motors are completed they’re brought to an area where they’re then loaded onto these semi-trucks behind me and then transported to Fremont, California and then from there, they’re assembled into vehicles.
More to electrify mobility
Elon Musk says there could eventually be 10 to 12 Gigafactories around the world. In May 2019, Tesla announced that in order to alleviate the pressure from the trade war on its business in China.
Tesla started its construction in January 2019 and said that it “will take roughly two years” until they start volume production. But they have since accelerated the plan and started delivering model 3 from Shanghai in January 2020.
In November 2019 Tesla announced that they will build a Gigafactory Europe right outside Berlin, planned to be operational by the end of 2021.
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The cover picture is of the latest release of Tesla on their Model Y assembly in Fremont.