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LEO Learning gets a tour of Volvo’s production plant

As we drove up to Volvo’s Torslanda production site in Gothenburg, Sweden, I was reminded of the day, almost a year ago, that we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the updated Volvo range, six months before its public release. It was exciting stuff; we had just begun developing sales training for Volvo, which was to be released alongside the range at the Geneva Motor Show.

The four of us lucky enough to get a tour of the Torslanda factory arrived at the visitor centre excited for the day ahead. The car park was a sea of Volvo cars of all shapes and colour, as you might expect. After we met our guide, we set off in a Blue Train tour buggy, completely overwhelmed by the scale of the site.

The site is split into three separate factories, all of which do their bit to provide pristine Volvo cars for all 2300 of their dealerships. We got to see inside two of the three factories on the site; the assembly and body plants whilst the paint shop was completely sealed off because of the nature of the work going on in there.

Our first destination is the Press Shop, which is part of the Body Plant. Here, rolls of sheet steel arrive via a designated train line to be rolled and flattened before getting squashed into car doors, bonnets and various other bits and bobs by one of five, two-storey presses. From here the parts head to the body plant to be welded into a chassis, which is a magnificently automated process. 99% of the work is done by robots, which have the ability to change tools and process just as a person would. It’s a lot like a scene from The Terminator, with giant robotic arms spinning, flashing and making sparks fly as they spot weld the body parts together across two levels.

Volvo employees assist this highly automated process, welding and checking the work of their robotic counterparts. The most impressive part of the operation is the marriage point. Here, the drive train of the car arrives along a conveyor, whilst the chassis comes from above, getting lowered onto the drive train. Purely automated, and with exact timing, the drive train impressively fits exactly into the shell of the car. Next the skeleton of a car receives wheels and an engine, before moving on into the assembly plant.

The limelight shifts onto Volvo’s workers in the assembly plant, as robots now assist staff whilst they fit components inside the car. The building which houses the production line is just short of two kilometres long, making us glad it wasn’t a walking tour of the site. Amazingly, the factory produces every car as it’s ordered from dealerships around the world, constantly making different vehicles to individual specifications, each with 2,000-4,000 individual components.

The entire factory is designed around its workers; robots move the cars so staff can work on them whilst avoiding injury or strain. After working with Volvo and their Designed Around You philosophy, it’s inspiring to see that it stretches throughout everything the company does.

As we watched an S60 roll off the end of the production line, ready to be distributed to any one of 100 countries around the world, I think back to the very start of the project, when we saw the car before anyone knew it even existed.

A year later and the entire range is in production at the very factory we had the pleasure of looking around, whilst LEO Learning’s training is in place to help Volvo staff understand the benefits of the updated range. It’s amazing to see the whole process go full circle. The learning made throughout 2013 extends LINE’s partnership with Volvo as we continue to provide training, whilst extending our capability and expertise in the automotive industry.