The first-ever virtual NCM Bash kicked off this morning from the National Corvette Museum and so far we’ve seen the Museum Staff put together a fun and informative set of presentations and seminars.
One of the highlights of any NCM Bash is the update from the Corvette Assembly Plant Manager and Kai Spande is known for sharing the latest production news from the plant. The video of his presentation is only available through the Corvette Museum, so we watched it this afternoon and bring you these highlights.
Kai gives his presentation from his usual spot inside the Chevrolet Theather at the NCM, although this year the room is completely empty except for a couple NCM staff members. Kai usually likes to play off the audience and later on after he deadpans an answer during Q&A, there is just silence. He laughs and said, “it’s not as fun to do the seminar without the audience here honestly.” We can’t wait to see you either, Kai, and we very much appreciate the update from the plant.
Safety of Employees
The seminar begins by addressing the Safety Procedures for dealing with the COVID-19 issues. We get our first look at the employee entrance and he describes the check-in process for each worker as they arrive. First, they receive a shot of hand sanitizer and then are questioned on how they are feeling. If all is good, they proceed to the next station but still maintaining a six-foot distance that is marked on the sidewalk. The next station is an employee wearing PPE that hands out the medical masks. Once inside the entrance to the plant, employees have their temperatures taken and if all is well, they proceed to their work stations.
Kai tells us that over the course that some employees have come back to work, and based on the questionnaire or their elevated temperatures, they are sent to the plant’s medical clinic for more attention. Some have been sent to get COVID-19 testing but so far all cases have come back negative. Later in the presentation, Kai says that some of the employees say they feel very safe in the plant due to all the screening that is going on. Additionally, there is approximately 150-200 new hand sanitizing stations now throughout the plant and at entrances. A total of 20 employees have been added just for cleaning activities and they follow the same protocols that meet or exceed the CDC guidelines.
The next section runs us through the timeline since Kai’s last visit to the Corvette Museum last August during the Anniversary Event. Since then, the 2020 Corvette Stingray has received a number of prestigious awards including the North American Car of the Year and the MotorTrend Car of the Year. The last C7 Corvette was built in November 2019, and the first C8 Corvette officially came off the assembly line on February 3rd, 2020. On March 4th, the first customer shipments left the factory, and then on March 20th, the final Corvettes were produced before shutting down for the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, on May 26th, the plant reopened. Kai tells us that with the NCM Bash being the same week of the plant’s reopening, he says it’s like we are celebrating the fact that cars are once again going down the assembly line.
Normally, the assembly line runs at 11.6 Corvettes finished per hour with 90 total completed at the end of the eight-hour shift. There are 4 minutes and 30 seconds per assembly station and it takes a car 13 hours on the general assembly line to be completed. When the plant restarted on Tuesday, the line was slowed to over 6 minutes per station and they completed a total of 15 Corvettes. During that first day, they took two hours to clean and explain all the new safety protocols and then allowed time for the employees to refresh their job functions.
It will take a few weeks to get back to the regular production schedule. As for the restart, the plant manager says they will be slow and deliberate based on how to do the production both safely and with quality…protection of employees and the quality of the work is paramount. During the Q&A he was asked about any supply issues and told us that they haven’t yet been slowed by any so far, which is great news to hear!
Although the plant was shut down for nine weeks, Kai and many of the team continued to work. The Quality Team was there and they worked to address many of the reported “issues” that were reported after roughy 2,700 cars were produced prior to the shutdown. He says that lots of those issues have been remediated and that we should see the ever-increasing quality. Kai shares a video of the CARE Inspection process which literally gives every new Corvette off the line the “white glove” treatment (as the video shows a working wearing a white glove running their hands over a panel gap). There are over 1,680 visual inspections done and 1,800 torque controls are measured and recorded for every car. Every Corvette goes through the water test where 5,600 gallons of water are poured over the car. Kai tells us he expects the plant is going to wait at least two weeks to ensure everything is good with these cars and that there are no problems. Once they have permission, they will be sent to customers.
Initial Production Statistics
We will be getting the full rundown on the production stats tomorrow with the Corvette Team presentation featuring Tadge, Harlan and Kirk. In the meantime, Kai showed us these two slides that have the top three and bottom three exterior colors, while another slide shows the penetration of four popular options based on the 2,700 cars built prior to the shutdown:
Had the NCM Bash gone on as planned back in April, Kai tells us that public tours would have been available. But now that the COVID-19 crisis is here, he says he doesn’t have any idea when they will be able to resume. Kai tells the seminar watchers that work will soon be underway in revamping the previous tour rooms and surrounding areas. Gone will be the black and red checker motif and it will be replaced with a very modern refresh that is bright and features contoured wall designs and more. He shows off several renderings of the new meeting room that will soon even feature the display of a new C8 Corvette.
As mentioned above, the video from Kai Spande is exclusively available to Virtual NCM Bash participants and we are unable to share it here as usual. However, we do have permission to share screen shots and we have put together this image gallery from Kai’s presentation:
National Corvette Museum
Corvette Museum Posts Agenda for Virtual NCM Bash May 28-29
Corvette Museum’s NCM Bash to be Presented Online as a Virtual-Only Event
The Corvette Assembly Plant Quietly Returns to the Business of Building 2020 Corvettes