Production Ramping

Thomas Mikl

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#1
Since I do a lot of projects for car companies and no I cannot tell you which ones, I have a little insight how a production ramp works.
I cannot say if Tesla does the same, but since several do, I guess it is at least similar.

Some people have been wondering why 30 then 100 then 1500.

Usually it works like this:
Production Candidates are not made by hand, they go through the assembly line, however the line is stopped at each station and manually stepped through robot steps to check if everything is OK.

First Production will much be the same, with a Quality Engineer walking beside the car and some robots might still be stepped. That is the month where most car manufacturers make 10-50 cars only of that model.

Then the production line is started, but at a very very slow speed (usually around 1-2 inch/s or 2-5 cm/s). Still Quality Engineers will walk with each car, so not all "slots" are filled with actual cars, so there will be space between each car. Usually 100-300 cars are made this way. Less if the line has to be stopped to tweak something, more if the line goes on and everything is fine. So my guess is 100 is lowballing it.

Finally production speed 1 is done. That may be anything from 10cm/s (4 inch/s) and may gradually increase with every month. We had lines that took 5-6 months or even a year to reach full speed with up to 300-500 cars per day.

I hope that was useful info. You may quote this as it is common knowledge in the car industry and I have no idea why stupid analysts do not know such things.
 

SoFlaModel3

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#2
Since I do a lot of projects for car companies and no I cannot tell you which ones, I have a little insight how a production ramp works.
I cannot say if Tesla does the same, but since several do, I guess it is at least similar.

Some people have been wondering why 30 then 100 then 1500.

Usually it works like this:
Production Candidates are not made by hand, they go through the assembly line, however the line is stopped at each station and manually stepped through robot steps to check if everything is OK.

First Production will much be the same, with a Quality Engineer walking beside the car and some robots might still be stepped. That is the month where most car manufacturers make 10-50 cars only of that model.

Then the production line is started, but at a very very slow speed (usually around 1-2 inch/s or 2-5 cm/s). Still Quality Engineers will walk with each car, so not all "slots" are filled with actual cars, so there will be space between each car. Usually 100-300 cars are made this way. Less if the line has to be stopped to tweak something, more if the line goes on and everything is fine. So my guess is 100 is lowballing it.

Finally production speed 1 is done. That may be anything from 10cm/s (4 inch/s) and may gradually increase with every month. We had lines that took 5-6 months or even a year to reach full speed with up to 300-500 cars per day.

I hope that was useful info. You may quote this as it is common knowledge in the car industry and I have no idea why stupid analysts do not know such things.
Thanks for taking the time to write that up, I definitely found it useful to get a better understanding.
 

Ip Man

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#3
Too bad investors don't understand this either-stock tanking. I'm buying each dip as I know it will come back.
SEMI, Y, Truck-too much good news to stay down. model 3 alone will bring in 25b in cash flow.
 

Badback

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#4
Since I do a lot of projects for car companies and no I cannot tell you which ones, I have a little insight how a production ramp works.
I cannot say if Tesla does the same, but since several do, I guess it is at least similar.

Some people have been wondering why 30 then 100 then 1500.

Usually it works like this:
Production Candidates are not made by hand, they go through the assembly line, however the line is stopped at each station and manually stepped through robot steps to check if everything is OK.

First Production will much be the same, with a Quality Engineer walking beside the car and some robots might still be stepped. That is the month where most car manufacturers make 10-50 cars only of that model.

Then the production line is started, but at a very very slow speed (usually around 1-2 inch/s or 2-5 cm/s). Still Quality Engineers will walk with each car, so not all "slots" are filled with actual cars, so there will be space between each car. Usually 100-300 cars are made this way. Less if the line has to be stopped to tweak something, more if the line goes on and everything is fine. So my guess is 100 is lowballing it.

Finally production speed 1 is done. That may be anything from 10cm/s (4 inch/s) and may gradually increase with every month. We had lines that took 5-6 months or even a year to reach full speed with up to 300-500 cars per day.

I hope that was useful info. You may quote this as it is common knowledge in the car industry and I have no idea why stupid analysts do not know such things.
Because, they are STUPID!
 

Thomas Mikl

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#6
1 m/s is really aggressive, but I have seen it work in partial assembly. That was a 2 part line (basically first prod hall was the robots making the chassis, welding and all that stuff, then a "buffer zone" than slowed down to around 0.8 m/s for the manual or semi-manual assembly parts aka Dashboard, drive train etc.). However I think Model 3 is design to even automate several of those steps since the parts are so slick, so maybe a lot of the placement is robots and only like putting plugs into sockets etc. is manual.
In theory a very good german car manufacturer said 1.5 m/s should be reachable by 2020, which I think was stretched. But seeing how innovative Tesla is 1 m/s could actually work out. With that they could prolly get close to 1000 cars a day so roughly 400,000 a year. Fastest I saw was around 600-800 if I recall correctly.

Edit PS: I hope they do not underestimate the logistics of this. Getting paint, parts and actually having trucks ship the finished cars offsite was a huge effort and they even had to widen the gates to get more trucks through.... I hope they get that right as well as the automation...
 

dudeman

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#7
1 m/s is really aggressive, but I have seen it work in partial assembly. That was a 2 part line (basically first prod hall was the robots making the chassis, welding and all that stuff, then a "buffer zone" than slowed down to around 0.8 m/s for the manual or semi-manual assembly parts aka Dashboard, drive train etc.). However I think Model 3 is design to even automate several of those steps since the parts are so slick, so maybe a lot of the placement is robots and only like putting plugs into sockets etc. is manual.
In theory a very good german car manufacturer said 1.5 m/s should be reachable by 2020, which I think was stretched. But seeing how innovative Tesla is 1 m/s could actually work out. With that they could prolly get close to 1000 cars a day so roughly 400,000 a year. Fastest I saw was around 600-800 if I recall correctly.
Thanks @Thomas Mikl This is very helpful.
 

3Victoria

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#10
Yes, I am not so worried about the robots ramping up as I am that the cars coming off the line can be inspected, tested and packaged for shipping! There must be multiple parallel inspection lines, so humans can keep up. But, possibly video and laser scanning can filter out flaws.
 

Daliman

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#11
Thanks this was a very informative look at the process for ramping producing a car. So controlling the increase in speed is a function of how many QC problems there are. If something that is made near the begining of the line becomes clear only later do they slow only that part again? Would they have to reset the whole line again?
 

Thomas Mikl

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#12
Assuming no issues, will the speed of the line be increased daily or in weekly or monthly steps?
Hard to say, that differs hugely, but usually they have milestones that they need to reach before speeding up. So most of the time it is monthly or 2 weeks apart. However the speed increase can in some cases be exponential rather than linear. Meaning you could go from 100 cars a month to 1000 then immediately to 5000 and next 10000. So like in the first post, it does not mean anything if they produce very slow now, they could potentially increase drastically if goals are met. Also usually that goals have several alternatives, so if the next optimal step would be 5000, they could opt for 2000 if they had a slight glitch.

Sorry not native speaker but I hope you get what I mean :)
 

EValuatED

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#13
Hard to say, that differs hugely, but usually they have milestones that they need to reach before speeding up. So most of the time it is monthly or 2 weeks apart. However the speed increase can in some cases be exponential rather than linear. Meaning you could go from 100 cars a month to 1000 then immediately to 5000 and next 10000. So like in the first post, it does not mean anything if they produce very slow now, they could potentially increase drastically if goals are met. Also usually that goals have several alternatives, so if the next optimal step would be 5000, they could opt for 2000 if they had a slight glitch.

Sorry not native speaker but I hope you get what I mean :)
Thank you for your very informative posts on this topic! I've made a few related comments in previous weeks from the perspective of design & simulation of not only the car but also the production line enabling faster entry into production and as issues are resolved the exponential sort of ramp up that you've shed light on. I'll bet you are familiar with the impact of design, modeling & simulation, and manufacturing software on modern manufacturing lines, as well!

Also we've seen the sort of exponential ramp you discuss above was forecast for the Gigafactory battery unit production (which may well be on the way up the curve now).
 

Ct200h

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#14
Does anyone have confirmation that the line is being used to produce these first 30 cars being delivered Friday ?

So on the line some robots working with all the engineers walking along with the car.
 

dudeman

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#15
Does anyone have confirmation that the line is being used to produce these first 30 cars being delivered Friday ?

So on the line some robots working with all the engineers walking along with the car.
Yes. The real question/concern is what does initial s curve look like. How soon they can ramp up production. I hope they can meet the expectations of 20k/mo by December. I think they will.
 

EValuatED

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#16
Yes. The real question/concern is what does initial s curve look like. How soon they can ramp up production. I hope they can meet the expectations of 20k/mo by December. I think they will.
Fair question @Ct200h as the curtains are still closed for the audience! Agree with @dudeman. Statements around SN1 imply production parts & processes, at some initial level. Of course we expect some details on he 28th!
 

SoFlaModel3

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#17
Does anyone have confirmation that the line is being used to produce these first 30 cars being delivered Friday ?

So on the line some robots working with all the engineers walking along with the car.
I would imagine so. It makes sense in line with starting slow, check quality, improve the line, and scale up exponentially!
 

Thomas Mikl

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#18
Usually (Tesla might be different) a car gets only a production serial if it is completely produced by the production line. The first cars usually just get someone walking along and get more "touchup". So if a welding is not 100% correct a human will do a touchup of that welding, or in the interior some car makers have huge amounts of silicone gel inside the dashboard in the first cars (rule is if something rattles in a premium car, but enough silicone in there so it wont rattle anymore until the gap is fixed in assembly...)