Unless those workers will be putting in thousands of hours per week (impossible, I know), this implies some truly prodigious productivity statistics: that by using the best available manufacturing techniques, they can double the world's battery production on 260,000 hours/week of labor.
Tesla acquired a renowned German manufacturing automation firm . I wouldn't be surprised if the Gigafactory is heavily automated as well.
Elon is very smart, indeed.
(can we admire running SpaceX & Tesla and being impressive at SolarCity, OpenAI concurrently, or is that fanboyism?)
edit: ok, the article doesn't mention secrecy as the motive but yes a hole is involved. And the motive for a single site is to reduce transportation costs.
6500 jobs is a big number in human scale. That's more people that you know.
But that's 0.05% of the manufacturing jobs in the US alone. 0.05% of the manufacturing power of the US fitted with the latest tech match the output of the whole Lithium-ion battery sector.
Obviously that's 1 specific field and product and you can't extrapolate to everything else, but really you can't help but think that even maintaining current employment in manufacturing will require staggering increase in manufacturing output of the US. If Trump is even a bit serious about trying (and has the congress support for it), it would require a colossal disruption of the market either through regulation, taxation, investment, ...
I could keep going but you get the idea. Jobs create more jobs which create more jobs.
The bottom line is this: It's an advanced economy sector industry creating jobs in the US, where none existed before. Not in spite of, but because it's a highly automated factory, it can be built in the US. The more "great American" companies that build advanced factories, the better for the US economy.
Frankly, I'm most impressed that this project seems to be on schedule. Gives me a little encouragement that we can execute on mega projects like this.
That makes sense, considering that Tesla's approach seems to be to get the tech set up first, and then make it economical with R&D breakthroughs later.
It's 320,000 sq. meters and employs about 3,800 people across three shifts, so call it 1,300/shift to make the math easy. That's about 1 employee per 250 sq. meters. Except that the machines and robots that build the modern world are enormous. They take up a huge percentage of the area of the factory.
The work that the humans actually performed was typically in small teams of 4-5 people as they wound cabling through the frame, ensured everything was aligned properly, performed a few welds that their 5-axis welders couldn't efficiently reach, etc. It was fascinating to see where the robotic investment wasn't worth it at the time.
Taking a wiring harness;
Routing it through the firewall and then making a dozen connections is simple for a worker, but extremely complex for a robot.
That factory was turning out 1 car/minute, so the $30/hr guy plugging harnesses in would add maybe $0.50 to the cost of the car? When you're selling vehicles with MSRPs over $40k (this was a large SUV assembly facility), the threshold for automating something is higher than you might expect.
According to his biography <https://www.amazon.com/Elon-Musk-SpaceX-Fantastic-Future/dp/..., Musk is particularly good at identifying supply-chain components that can be economically produced in-house. The Gigafactory looks like the same general strategy, and if it pays off as well as the SpaceX case has, they have a good chance of achieving their production goals.
Space X launches the rocket that takes solar-powered self-driving machinery to Mars which starts building solar-powered settlements. By the time we get there, we're not fighting for basic survival, we're just moving in...
Mostly true, but to get a complete figure you might also factor in labor hours from upstream vendors which supply parts and/or raw materials. Increased battery production also means increased raw material extraction/processing/transportation.
Still impressive though. There's probably less than 50k workers involved in producing the world's battery supply.
The core battery tech isn't new, but the machinery and the automation of the process is.. but that's a much smaller risk than say trying to build this factory on a "disruptive" new battery tech.
I don't understand why it takes so much labor. I would have thought automation to be massive.
If you divide that by 6,500 employees supporting the manufacturing, it comes to about 385,000 batteries produced per employee per year.
So what is the biggest labor item?