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brianbreslin 447 days ago | link | parent

Is tesla's factory fully robotic? Or do they still have human labor in the build process?


cloudwalking 447 days ago | link

Most of the car is built by hand. Robots move the vehicle along the production line, perform a lot of the body and frame spot welding, and stamp aluminum panels. Most of the work is done by people.

Right now the car is still evolving--both design and manufacturing is changing (literally) daily. It doesn't make sense to use robots yet.

Source: I toured the factory last week.

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msandford 447 days ago | link

Lots of humans in the build process. They might have robots making battery packs but all the engineering on those is done and dusted, probably a decade ago.

Generally people don't start building/buying robots to do this stuff until the economics forces it. That probably doesn't happen until they sell a million or more cars per year.

EDIT: This is factually incorrect as Tesla does employ a lot of automation. But there are still plenty of people in the loop as well.

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fnordfnordfnord 447 days ago | link

Tesla's factory is fully automated, as automated as any other automobile factory. It is practically impossible to get the necessary level of repeatable precision without it. http://www.teslamotors.com/gallery#

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msandford 447 days ago | link

I'm not arguing there is NO automation. But it's definitely not FULLY automated.

My dad did design work for division of Tyco that made syringes. That was fully automated. 100,000sqft of production and a single janitor automated.

Tesla? Definitely a lot of people visible. http://www.flickr.com/photos/77735091@N08/7398173016

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fnordfnordfnord 447 days ago | link

I reckon Tesla's automation compares well with any other automaker in the same stage of the product life-cycle. I don't see a complex product such as an automobile ever being automated to the point of needing only a janitor to mind the factory. There is no lack of robots, which is the statement that prompted my response. Robot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/77735091@N08/7395856658/ Robots: http://www.flickr.com/photos/77735091@N08/7351817696/ Robot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/77735091@N08/7338398440/

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seferphier 447 days ago | link

I think most of the factory is automatic from watching the Tesla Factory video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToVqccRd6Hg

I'm not sure though.

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VLM 447 days ago | link

There are no factories in the world that do not have human labor as an expense on the P/L sheet. Automation/robotic-ness is not a yes or no question or even a single floating point number. "the build process" is not a well defined constraint, perhaps automatic screw machines and contour/turret lathes were "fully robotic builds" a century or so ago.

Given those restrictions, from a mfg background and looking at the pix its basically more or less similar to other automobile plants, not particularly under or over capitalized. Their "secret sauce" is not their shop floor. Note I'm not in any way implying there is anything wrong or imperfect with their shop floor, I'm merely claiming that the production floor is not their "secret sauce".

This is probably by design. If you're going to push the boundaries in numerous areas of technology, it would be pretty dumb to push your luck and in addition to everything else, try to hyper automate a factory. If anyone would try a hyperautomated factory, I would guess it would be one of the giant incumbents, probably Ford, probably on a known and simple/cheap model. I would expect the worlds first "never touched by human hands" automobile to be something very similar to a Ford Focus rather than a Tesla.

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