home > articles > porsche factory tour stuttgart > part two

Porsche Factory Tour

well here is the story and comments about our visit to the Porsche factory during our recent trip to Europe. Most of this is what I remember from the tour, so I may be corrected! - Gary Faas

You need to book the FREE tour through Porsche Cars Australia and they will send a fax back to confirm the booking. All tours are at 10am and you need to book a couple of months in advance. What can I say, WOW! You get to see everything! Well almost - the new 4x4 design/production was enclosed in wall panelling, and while we were tempted to jump up and down, we thought that maybe if everyone ignored them that it would go away :-).

The Porsche factory occupies about 5 blocks in the Zuffenhausen 'suburb' of Stuttgart. The factories are on multiple levels with conveyors and large lifts moving the cars around. One of the production lines even goes on a walkway over the road to the next building. A train station is right out front of the main building for easy access for visits. If you can't get on the tour, there is a free small Museum (no 928, 924 or 944!), and small shop.

Unfortunately cameras are not allowed in the factory, so you will have to accept my story... 

Anyway, to the factory:
The complete engine production for a 911 or Boxster engine takes about 75 minutes (although the Turbo takes nearly 3 hours!). All the engines move around this sort of hanging conveyor belt that moves slowly whilst each worker moves with the engines to assemble each small part. There are about 15-20 workers total that move with each engine.

Each engine has a job sheet attached and each person signs off to each of the tasks. The job sheets even have the CUSTOMERS name on them - each cars is built exactly to order, even down to the engine. They maintain full details on every car and if any customer has a problem with anything on the car they can track it down to exactly who performed that task by the cars VIN.

The tools and parts for each task on the production line are only available for the short duration whilst the engine passes that point. If any worker is too slow or has a problem, the whole line is stopped (a pull-cord) and the number of cars produced that day is reduced. When a worker needs a break to go to the loo, he pulls a different cord and a standby worker comes in.

The one line is used for all engine types - 911, Boxster and racing! Every engine is tested for several hours at full limits before being forwarded to the next area. If any parts are required by any person they are delivered fully automatically by small robot trolleys that follow white lines on the floor.

It is quite amazing watching these stop at a worker, unhook and then carry on to the next task. You had to make sure you didn't get in ones way - they would stop, but it would hold up production. It takes about 6-8 full hides for the leather interior - we actually saw the entire process of fitting the leather on each of the items, although the hides are sent to Recaro for manufacturing the seats (to ensure a perfect colour match). You can request your own special colour, and they have had emu farmers have a car made using their emu hide, and cattle ranch owners using their own cow hide and brand mark.

In the main production line where the items are put into the body shell, there is still only one production line. Cars types are completely mixed on the belt in order of customer requests. Each task is broken down to steps of EXACTLY 5.32 minutes and there are continuous count-down screens all around to tell each worker how long he has left! The cars are continuously moving, and he must finish and move onto the next car in the allotted time. He could be installing windows in a 911, then a Boxster, then a Racing car, then a couple of 911s. The protection panels are colour coded to avoid mix-ups.

The whole production facility at Porsche has only one Robot for automation - it puts the glue on the Windows! The guys simply place the window on this holder, the robot turns it around, analyses it (to work out which window - front or back - it is and which car it is from) and then lays the glue around the edge and gives it back to the workers - takes about 30 seconds all up!

As some of the buildings are specified as historical by the government (due to their place in motor vehicle history), they are not allowed to modify or destroy some of the buildings. They now have a space problem and cannot increase production at this plant. They currently produce about 140 cars at Stuttgart (about 110 911s, and 30 Boxsters). All the Boxsters produced here are left hand drive, so all the Boxsters we get in Australia come from the Finland factory (which produce about 100 per day).

One of the older guys on the tour with us actually worked on the production lines about 40 years ago - he remembered much of the building layout - and now works for Porsche cars USA.

I will try to post some photos of the museum on the web site soon.

Any questions?? Stay tuned for an even better thing I did in Stuttgart!!

Gary Faas '87 S4 (without Emu leather) Perth, Western Australia.