Maximum efficiency in the production of the Panamera
In April 2009 series production of Porsche’s fourth model line, the Panamera, started in the Leipzig plant of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. In the world’s most modern automotive factory to date the manufacturer of premium sports vehicles is assembling the four-door Gran Turismo together with the Cayenne sports utility vehicle on one line using the latest production methods. At the same time Porsche has managed to almost entirely do away with expensive storage areas by installing a logistics concept that is an innovation in the industry. ‘I know of no other factory anywhere in the world in which the principles of lean production have been as consistently implemented as here in Leipzig,’ said Michael Macht, Board member responsible for production and logistics at Porsche, speaking today to journalists at the Leipzig plant.
To make production as efficient as possible, substantial building work was necessary at the factory premises in Leipzig, which cover 300 hectares. Porsche invested around EUR 150 million in a new 25,000 m² assembly hall, a logistics center, a pilot and analysis center, and a training facility. ‘Leipzig and the Cayenne sport utility vehicle that are produced there are a total success story. We have a superb team at our plant, one that is extremely motivated and delivers excellent quality. The prerequisites for producing the Panamera in Leizpig could therefore not be better,’ said Siegfried Bülow, Chairman of the Board at Porsche Leipzig GmbH.
A new logistics concept has now been developed for the Panamera production – one which ensures incisive improvements. An exact schedule and plan of procedures in which all suppliers are incorporated makes it possible to deliver parts at high frequency and just one hour before they are further processed on the production line. This means that expensive storage areas are virtually unnecessary – this is unique in this form in the international automotive industry. As the suppliers are mostly companies from Germany the German share of the value creation of the Panamera is a good 70 per cent. Macht: ‘Entirely in the spirit of the company, the Panamera thus also stands for the seal of quality “Made in Germany”.’
For Michael Macht, the production of the two vehicle types Cayenne and Panamera on one production line is also a ‘logistical master stroke’. Almost all the engines for both models are brought to Leipzig by truck from the Porsche plant in Zuffenhausen. The partially equipped Cayenne bodies come by rail from Bratislava, the Panamera bodyshells by rail from the Volkswagen plant in Hanover. In Leipzig the interior of the Panamera is first assembled on a singular line. Once both bodies have reached the same status in the manufacturing process they run on one line until completion. And this despite countless individualization options for both models.
During the construction of the plant in Leipzig, which was put into operation in August 2002, Porsche invested EUR 127 million and thus consistently implemented the guidelines of a lean factory. Experience won in Zuffenhausen was of particular help here. To save the company Porsche had restructured the production in its main plant along Japanese production lines as early as the beginning of the 1990s and thus put itself back on the road to success. To meet the high requirements and expectations of its customers Porsche continues to put its faith primarily in specialist personnel from the region around Leipzig. Porsche Leipzig GmbH currently has some 600 staff. Between 2003 and 2006, a limited edition of 1,270 units of the super sports car Carrera GT was also produced by hand in the Leipzig plant. And at the beginning of this year, the 250,000th SUV sports vehicle rolled off the production line. With the V6 Diesel the Cayenne model is now offered in seven versions. The company excels here with a highly modern customer center, a drive-in and testing section, and a six-kilometer-long offroad track. In the company’s own biotope, 70 aurochs and a herd of wild horses enjoy a peaceful existence as ‘caretakers of the landscape.’
Porsche is also making its mark in the city of Leipzig. It attracted particular attention five years ago with its assistance for the Nikolai Church. With a donation of EUR 1.8 million the company made it possible to fully restore the famous Ladegast organ. Twenty years after the fall of the Wall and ten years after the decision was taken to establish the plant in Leipzig as a production center for the Cayenne, Porsche and the city are aiming to write yet another chapter in the success story with the Panamera. Michael Macht: ‘We have never regretted deciding upon Leipzig. The success of the Cayenne proves us right. That is why there was no question of us not producing the Panamera in Leipzig too.’
With the Panamera Porsche has its eyes firmly set on new groups of buyers from the luxury class. The vehicle is characterized by a high degree of comfort, exceptional space and extremely sporty driving characteristics with low consumption. The Panamera is defining a whole new concept in the luxury class. For its market introduction on September 12 in Germany, the Gran Turismo will initially be launched in 3 variations that will be equipped with a 400-hp V8 induction engine or with a V8 biturbo engine with 500 hp. Porsche is planning to sell yearly an average of around 20,000 units of the Panamera over the entire lifecycle.