Assembly magic in man and tech mix
When you think of mass production, thoughts generally turn towards automated factory lines with minimal, if any, human input.
The AMG engine factory is different. Rather than robots doing all the work or stationary factory workers adding a single component to hundreds of engines per day, a single builder assembles each AMG engine from start to completion.
They then attach a plate with their signature to the engine block.
It’s a motto the company calls “One man, one engine” (rather misleadingly, as there are female builders too).
The role of master engine builder may sound like something from the Lego Movie, but it’s a prestigious position.
To get there, workers undertake a three-year craftsmanship training course — similar to an apprenticeship in Australia — before they are then given four-to-eight weeks of line training where they learn to build a specific engine.
When the engines change, staff spend four weeks being retrained in a new engine.
There are about 300 people in the factory in Affalterbach, Germany.
About 80 are working on the all-new M139 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine bound for the upcoming A 45, while others are being retrained to join the line.
And what a factory line it is.
The M139 engine is assembled in a brand new factory which aims to recreate a motorsports feel and feels like a science laboratory more than somewhere engines are made.
Builders have a high-tech “shopping cart” full of every item needed to assemble the engine. When the worker completes one task and moves to the next station, their shopping cart follows autonomously — meaning they don’t have to walk back and forwards to get parts.
The factory’s autonomous tech is so advanced, if the builder tries to use an incorrect component, his tools won’t work to allow it to happen.
All up, it takes a builder some 2.5 hours to build an M139 engine in the new factory, while the V8 — made in a noisier and comparatively antiquated factory on the ground floor — takes about four hours.
It’s a motto the company calls ‘One man, one engine’.
An AMG engine builder adds his name to the finished product.