A Visit to Zuffenhausen
A HAPPY COINCIDENCE presented itself last year that allowed us to visit the Porsche factory and museum in Stuttgart in 2018. Our thanks go to Harris Theodore of Porsche Oakville on guidance for our trip regarding timing, reservations, etc.. Advance reservations for the Factory Tour are required and can be made on Porsche’s website: https://www.porsche.com/museum/en/
You are well advised to organize this tour three months in advance. The tours start from the Museum and are tightly scheduled – no cameras, phones or pictures permitted.
After reserving, all that remained was to find a place to stay. We ‘Googled’ “best hotel for Porsche Factory Tour” and found that our brethren at Porsche Club Great Britain recommended: The Adler Hotel, Asperg https://www.adler-asperg.de/en/about-us.html, is a four-star hotel about 15 km from Porscheplatz. It’s family owned and operated with dinner in either the Brasserie (excellent) or Swabenstube, an outstanding Michelin star restaurant. From the outside it’s unassuming but, like so much of Europe, this changes on entering the hotel.
Christian Ottenbacher, the owner, drives a Cayman GTS himself and advised us that Porsche GB would be staying June 7th and 8th for Porsche’s 70th anniversary celebrations. He highly recommended a visit to the Mercedes Museum and we are glad he did. As a final gesture, he organized a hotel ride to Porscheplatz for our visit. After our stay we too recommend the Adler!
The factory tour takes approximately 90 minutes and we had to avoid certain areas during production as some prototypes were being assembled that day.
Spanning several buildings from the original brick factory, now protected as historical, to the most modern, space is at a premium and assembly proceeds on four very precisely laid out floors. Construction activities are also in full force at Zuffenhausen for Taycan (Mission E) production which they expect to finish in May 2019 to commence manufacturing the all electric model.
What surprises are the logistics: trucks with tarped sides arrive continuously with pallets of parts in custom plastic trays that fork lifts remove while returning the empty packaging. Everything is bar-coded and linked to the car key on the line. The key blinks constantly in production as operations are completed and registered. Workers refer to the build sheets and the key confirms installation.
The production teams look impressive in their Porsche uniforms and the factory itself is clean, bright, quiet, and well organized. Employees rotate monthly to new job stations to maintain proficiency and establish mastery. Robotic transfer units are everywhere and we were cautioned not to delay them. The line moves in three-minute increments with no time to lose. We were advised at the ‘marriage station’, where body and chassis are joined, that we had to leave within five minutes – prototypes approaching. There was a chassis three units away that looked different to my eye, but we’ll have to wait and see what transpires.
The upholstery shop was our final stop. Here there are no time limits on work operations: it has to be perfect. Porsche controls sourcing and processing of hides to obtain blemish-free leather preferring mosquito-free elevations in Europe without barbed wire. Hides are bar-coded on receiving them and scanned, with defects recorded before finish treatment and dyeing by an outside contractor begins. A computer optimizes part yields with 50% of the hide normally useable and the balance sold for small leather goods.
Everyone we saw at Zuffenhausen seemed to be proud of their company and took pride in their work. We’re happier than ever to have one of their cars. If you get a chance, go to Zuffenhausen. </>
Story and photos by Peter and Susan Blake, UCR Socials Co-Chairs