While we're waiting for the North American version of the Fiat 500 to begin rolling off the assembly line in Toluca, Mexico, let's take a look at where the European Fiat 500 is made.
The Euro Fiat 500 is manufactured at the Fiat Auto Poland factory, located in the Polish city of Tychy. One of the most modern in the world, the Tychy factory has won numerous prestigious awards. Notably in September 1996, Fiat Auto Poland became the first automotive company in Europe to win the ISO 9001 Quality Assurance Certificate.
More recently, in 2007, Fiat Auto Poland joined the select group of "World Class Manufacturing” organizations, that is companies recognized with the best production systems in the world. WCM means a comprehensive program of reconfiguring production management systems, a program based on fundamental principles of eliminating losses and waste in every shape or form. WCM draws on the best time-tested methods and tools supported by commitment and involvement of the entire staff and management in the process.
Here's a summary of awards won by Fiat Auto Poland:
- ISO 9001 Quality Assurance Certificate in 1996
- ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certification for the Body Plant in Tychy in 1999
- ISO 9001:2000 and PN-N-18001 in 2002
- The Polish Quality Award in 2004
- FAP was recognized for excellence in 2005 in the European Quality Award Competition, the
first Polish company awarded
- Bronze Level Award for adherence to WCM standards in 2007
- The top place for Fiat Panda in the category of city cars in ADAC’s 2008 reliability
- ‘Auto Lider 2008’ special award for FAP for its long-standing contribution to the
development of Polish automotive industry and economy
- Silver Level Award in 2009 from the WCM audit
(It should be noted that Chrysler has adopted Fiat's World Class Manufacturing techniques and the plant in Mexico slated to build the North American Fiat 500 is well on its way to achieving WCM status.)
The plant in Tychy employs 6,422 people and one car rolls off its lines every 35 seconds translating to a daily production of over 1,500 cars. In 2009, the factory produced 605,797 automobiles. It covers 1,365,259 square meters in total area with 426,180 square meters of usable area.
Take a tour of the Tychy factory:
The Welding Shop
The Welding Shop is the most automated department in the factory with 715 robots on the Panda and Fiat 500 lines.
This is where individual components are mounted together to form the body and where the car gets its definite form.
The Paint Shop
This video shows the automated paint process. Note this video is from the Mirafiore factory, Tychy uses a similar process.
The Paint Shop is considered one of the most advanced industrial installations of this type in Europe with extensive automation guaranteeing high quality standards. Using water-based paint and very low levels of solvent, it is a state of the art, environmentally friendly, facility.
Here, the body undergoes phosphate coating, cathaphoresis, and sealing, gets a primer coat, metallic or pastel base coat, and finally a clear coat. The paint shop is fully environment-controlled.
Paint is applied using an electrostatic sprayer. This technology enables the paint particles to be charged, meaning that, following the spraying carried out by means of the 30,000 rpm rotation of the turbine cup, they are attracted to the sheet metal of the body. By using the electrostatic application technology, the efficiency of transfer of the product increases from approximately 35 percent to more than 80 percent. The main advantages are excellent paint coverage and less paint waste while still achieving the required application thicknesses.
The Assembly Plant is where individual trim components are fitted, such as dashboard, driveline, suspension, front end, seats, radiator, fan,tanks, etc.
It takes 16 ”process” hours for the Tychy plant to transform rolls of sheet metal into a finished car.
However, it is only a theoretical cycle as it does not include all the necessary logistics and preparatory operations.
The finished car undergoes strict and thorough testing and inspection before it is turned over to marketing to assure the highest possible quality.