Factory Zero Revisited for New EV Operation Insight

DETROIT – Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president of global manufacturing and sustainability, revisited Factory Zero as a part of his video series, the “Competitive Advantage.”

Cathy Staelgraeve, assistant plant director of Factory Zero, says the plant was gutted in 2019. Within 20 months, the factory was rebuilt with new state of the art equipment and by the end of this year, she says they will have about 1,900 employees.

The first piece of equipment the video visits is the Leica Scanner. Staelgraeve says this takes the place of their traditional Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) room.

“This is the first of its kind in a GM plant and it gives us quick dimensional feedbacks to build a good solid foundation for the vehicle fit and finish later on,” she says.

The system scans vehicles for dimensional capabilities and produces a full color map within two hours, as opposed to the CMM map, which takes six hours to produce.

Next they visited the Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) battery marriage system. Keeyana Hicks, RESS battery install operator, is tasked with marrying the RESS into vehicles.

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

Staelgraeve says this marriage takes the place of their chassis marriage in their internal combustion engine plants.

“Before we’d have an engine and a transmission come together to join the vehicle, sometimes with a separate suspension together as a chassis,” she says. “That’s what this is.”

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

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

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

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

Additionally, Brown says there is no need for emissions testing since they are dealing with EVs; however, they do check their high voltage batteries and other systems, like wheels.

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

Staelgraeve says a few new EV’s will be released soon, including the Hummer SUV, the all-electric Silverado and Sierra truck, and the Cruise Origin.

Source: General Motors

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.