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Tesla expands hiring and manufacturing scope of the Gigafactory with highly automated drivetrain production

Tesla Gigafactory Oct 2016 - Lance Neveu - Electrek

Earlier this year, we learned that Tesla is expanding the scope of the Gigafactory in Nevada to not only manufacture battery cells and packs, but also electric motors on new ‘Drive Unit assembly lines’. It was revealed through job postings at the factory, but now Tesla is “expanding its manufacturing team in the Gigafactory” with several new job openings announced today by the company’s Vice-President of Engineering for Drive Systems & Vehicle NVH.

The effort appears to be to support the manufacturing of the new third-generation drivetrain architecture that Tesla developed for the Model 3. 

Michael Schwekutsch joined Tesla last year to lead powertrain developments after a two-decade long career working for legendary third-party powertrain engineering firms like BorgWarner and GKN Driveline. More recently, he managed programs for the electric and hybrid powertrains of the BMW i8, Porsche 918 Spyder, Fiat 500eV, Volvo XC90, among other popular vehicles.

Today, he is responsible for Tesla’s drive units from the design and engineering to the manufacturing and validation – all operations currently done at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California.

But now Tesla is officially expanding some of those operations to the Gigafactory. In a post on LinkedIn today, Schwekutsch announced that he is looking for new manufacturing engineers for his team at the plant:

“We are looking for highly motivated candidates that want to be part of changing the paradigm of individual transportation. We will manufacture complex, technologically advanced systems using the most advanced equipment and automation, and need the best talent in the world to join us.”

The Tesla executive is listing several engineering jobs currently opened and he confirmed that production associates and supervisors will follow soon.Gigafactory-size

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that he wants to reinvent manufacturing with the Gigafactory. He wants for the product output to be as fast as “bullets out of machine gun”. In order to do that, Tesla will need to rely heavily on automation, which is reflected in the new jobs listed by Schwekutsch.

Here’s an example:

Senior Manufacturing Engineer – Assembly

  • Manufacturing processes include but are not limited to:
  • Automated Conveyance & Robotic part and packaging handling
  • Fastening & Torque Application
  • Sealant Dispense Systems
  • Press & Thermal Fit of mechanical assemblies including Shafts, Bearings, and Gears
  • Vision Control & Precision Gaging
  • Conveyance & Robotic Handling
  • Leak Testing
  • Electrical & End of Line Tests (cold, hot, static and dynamic)

Additionally, Musk said that Tesla wants to increase the density of its manufacturing facilities – meaning to have more manufacturing equipment in the same space. Here are actual CAD drawings of the Gigafactory that Tesla released after the opening of the first phase earlier this year:gigafactory-cad-2

During the same presentation, Musk confirmed that Tesla is planning for ‘Gigafactory 2’ to manufacture everything from the battery cells to the finished vehicles. While the ‘Gigafactory 1’ was originally only going to have battery cell and pack manufacturing operations, it looks like Tesla is now taking a step closer to the vision for the ‘Gigafactory 2’ by also adding drivetrain manufacturing with Schwekutsch’s team.

Musk recently said that Tesla plans to choose the location for ‘Gigafactory 2’ in Europe next year.

Yesterday, Tesla confirmed that it currently employs over 850 workers at the Gigafactory in Nevada and that 1,000 more will be hired come in first half of 2017 for its production ramp up.

The increased activities at the plant are in preparation for a start of battery cell manufacturing, a ramp up of Tesla Energy products and to support the production increase associated with the upcoming Model 3.tesla-gigafactory-ouput

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