DETROIT — Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of global manufacturing and sustainability, revisited Factory Zero as part of his video series, “The Competitive Edge.”

Cathy Staelgraeve, assistant plant manager at Factory Zero, explains that the plant was gutted in 2019. In 20 months, the plant was rebuilt with new state-of-the-art equipment and by the end of this year, it will have approximately 1,900 employees.

The first equipment visited by the video is the Leica scanner. Staelgraeve says this replaces their traditional Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) room.

“It’s the first of its kind at a GM plant and it gives us quick dimensional feedback to build a good solid foundation for vehicle fit and finish later,” she says.

The system scans vehicles for dimensional capabilities and produces a color map in two hours, unlike the CMM map, which takes six hours to produce.

Next, they visited the Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) Battery Wedding System. RESS Battery Installation Operator Keeyana Hicks is responsible for integrating RESS into vehicles.

“We have to check the front and back caps to make sure everything is intact and not broken,” she says.

Staelgraeve says this marriage replaces their chassis marriage in their internal combustion engine factories.

“Before, we had an engine and transmission joined together to join the vehicle, sometimes with a separate suspension together as a chassis,” she says. “It is what it is.”

Currently, the RESS comes from GM’s Brownstown plant, Staelgraeve says; however, she says these packs will be built in Factory Zero by the end of the year.

Finally, they explored the Dynamic Vehicle Test (DVT).

First, there’s the alignment test, which Staelgraeve says is easier to do on an electric vehicle than an internal combustion engine vehicle. Audio and headlights are also tested.

“We’re actually about to start where we learn more about the vehicle’s braking system,” says Shuantia Brown, vehicle electrical systems manager.

Additionally, Brown says there is no need to test emissions since these are electric vehicles; however, they do check their high voltage batteries and other systems, like the wheels.

Another major difference this machine has from previous ones is that braking is automated, Brown says.

Staelgraeve says a few new electric vehicles will hit the market soon, including the Hummer SUV, the all-electric Silverado and Sierra trucks, and the Cruise Origin.

Source: General Motors

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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