The National Corvette Museum’s Anniversary Celebration was held last week and one of the Corvette Team members we always appreciate hearing from is Corvette Assembly Plant Manager Kai Spande. Kai’s seminar was held live at the Corvette Museum while also being streamed to virtual registrants, and his goal was to inform customers and enthusiasts and keep us up-to-date with all the activity at the assembly plant. The NCM has posted the full 1-hour video which we are sharing below.
Kai opens the seminar with a brief safety message talking about mask-wearing and GM’s efforts to keep their workers healthy. GM has produced over 10 million masks to date and participants at the NCM were offered a 5-pack which features a GM logo on them.
Why can’t I have steak and eat it too?
One of the major topics that Kai wanted to accomplish during his seminar was to help demystify the Corvette order and build process. Kai shares examples of quotes from questions that Corvette buyers posted on various forums and “blogs” like this one as an example: “How come I ordered my Corvette before a friend ordered his, and his car is already built?”
Kai then shares examples of the Plant’s Build Restrictions which include the differences between assembling the Couple vs Convertible models as well as colors, options, and supplier capacity:
“In the factory we have some build restrictions. A few examples – we cannot make 100% coupes or 100% convertibles at any given time. The way we source our parts we try to predict what the fraction might be, and the different cars have different work content. The convertible top takes more time to install than the coupe. The workload in those specific stations are exaggerated a little bit. It’s not a problem if you do one. You end up slowing everything down if you do two, three, four in a row. When we schedule building of cars we typically never schedule convertibles back to back for that reason.”
Kai also talks about how certain options need to be separated on the line because some will take longer to install than others, like the E60 Front Lift which he says has proved more popular than originally predicted. He says “It takes more energy or specific work content to install all those systems. It also takes parts. We don’t source every car to have every option. If you order a car with E60, which many more people did than we thought, it can take longer to source that part.”
Demystifying Order to Plant to Dealer Operations
Once again, Kai shares common questions about the ordering process and in this next part, he talks about the Status Codes that hear about from the plant, dealers, and other customers. The key status events here are 3000 “Accepted by Production Control”, 3100 “Available to Sequence”, 3300 “Scheduled for Production”, 3400 “Broadcast to Plant”, and 3800 “Produced”.
Once the car has been produced there are still quite a few things happening with it. As the Corvette is driven off the assembly line, the first thing that happens is that it goes to the Alignment pit. Operators under the car do the work and there are about 30 different checks that are done as the car’s wheels are aligned. Kai provides a video showing the alignment process on a C8 Corvette and its something that we’ve never seen before so make sure you watch it as its quite fascinating.
The next step is the Dynamic Vehicle Testing where over 8,000 individual checks are performed on the new Stingray. The car will actually check many of these items itself while information is also extracted from the OBD2 Port. Kai says the operators are very skilled and have a light touch to speed up or slow down to predetermined levels as the car is being checked out.
Next up for the Corvette is the Launch Water Test. This test is much longer than the standard water test and Kai says the car is literally submerged in thousands of gallons of water. “When we bring a new vehicle to production, trying to seal a car up is more difficult than you might think. For all intents and purposes, this test really submerges the car so we can find leaks.”
Corvette CARE is the next stop for the Corvette where it receives 32 individual checks as well as 100% functionality checks to ensure everything is working correctly. Kai gives the examples of seats being moved back and forth, and so on. Then it’s off to the regular CARE where 270 individual checks to the car are done. Finally, the Corvette goes through a “Regular Water Test.”
Believe it or not, we aren’t done yet! The Corvettes are then driven outside where they are run through the Squeak and Rattle test. This is a test that 100% of all cars go through and the road surfaces vary from those that twist the car and then shake it as it is driven over Belgium Blocks and large braided ropes. A video shows a C8 Corvette driving the course as Kai explains what they are “listening” for.
Now it’s time for the Batch and Hold where another 57 quality checks are performed. A video is shared showing a plant worker looking at a number of items that include opening doors, checking the escape button in the frunk, and the full range of motion from the seats. They also will get into the car and with it running they look at the HVAC systems, steering wheel column, and even cycling through the individual Drive Modes on the dash.
Over 8,500 individual checks are performed on the Corvette after reaching Status 3800. Kai says about the saying “Trust…but Verify” which he turns around as “Verify it enough…and then you can trust it. That’s manufacturing.”
At that point, it goes to Status 4000 “Available to Ship” where the car heads to Cooper’s lot (named after Jack Cooper Transport Co.) If a Corvette is ordered with stripes, it’s taken over to the stripe shop where the decals are applied. The cars are then wrapped in the white shipping covers and wait for their truck. Once shipped, the status changes for 4200 “Shipped” and Kai says the cars are grouped and shipped by geographical location. Cars that are shipped out west are sent by train so the trucks take those cars to the rail yard in Toledo, OH.
There’s a more to Kai’s talk which entails the 2020 Corvette Convertible and the introduction of the new 2021 Corvette colors which we’ve already covered and there is always some good Q&A from the plant manager as well so stay with it for the full hour.
Thanks again to the NCM for making this video available for all Corvette customers and enthusiasts!
[VIDEO] NCM Anniversary Celebration 2020 – Thursday Highlights
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[VIDEO] Kai Spande Comments on the First 2020 Corvette Stingray Built