Arriving on the VinFast manufacturing facility in Hai Phong, the very first thing you discover is the large scale of the property. Calling it a manufacturing facility is a little bit of an understatement. It’s far more like a small metropolis with metropolis block sized manufacturing facility buildings. Constructed on a 900 acre property, the manufacturing facility can produce as much as 250,000 autos per 12 months right this moment and VinFast is working to scale that up even additional.
Disclaimer: VinFast paid for journey and lodging for the writer to attend this occasion.
Automotive manufacturing at VinFast’s Hai Phong, Vietnam, manufacturing facility begins on the expansive Press Store. Right here, rolls of uncooked aluminum and metal are minimize into blanks, then pressed with a sequence of dies into physique panels for VinFast’s autos. In the present day, VinFast makes inner combustion autos, with a transparent trajectory in the direction of the absolutely electrical future that has them halting the manufacturing of all inner combustion-fired autos on August thirty first, 2022. They presently provide three full electrical autos, beginning with the e34, which we noticed roaming across the streets of Hanoi.
The first working space of the Press Store was up on the second degree, the place a large Schuler press lived. These outsized machines function basically autonomously, seamlessly shuttling in-process elements by means of the manufacturing course of. Units of dies function like cookie cutters, with the higher and decrease items of the dies being pressed down onto a chunk of sheet steel to press it into the specified form. Take a look at the video above for a fast take a look at the Schuler press in motion. The orange arms you see dancing out and in of the method use suction cups to seize onto the steel elements, transferring them from one press part to the following. It’s a fragile dance, with little room for error alongside the way in which.
The pairs of dies stamp out doorways, hoods, trunk lids, and extra and could be swapped out to supply completely different elements of the automobile. The dies used within the Press Store weigh tens of tons every, requiring overhead cranes to maneuver them out and in when the machines are refitted for a brand new product. Rows and rows of dies used to supply completely different panels are saved on the primary flooring of the Press Store, lined up like terra cotta troopers ready to be known as into motion.
After being stamped out, rows of employees visually inspected the panels earlier than storing them in ready racks. On occasion, one of many panels was pulled out of the combination for a extra detailed inspection on a stand particular for every element. The operation was huge, however appeared to require only a few individuals, with possibly a dozen individuals manning all the Press Store operation throughout our go to.
From the Press Store, the physique panels have been ferried over to the Physique Store the place armies of ABB robots outfitted with spot welders, suction cups, and extra, supported by a number of VinFast employees, welded panels collectively right into a body-in-white one weld at a time. On common, automobile our bodies require upwards of 6,000 welds, making the Physique Store the manufacturing equal of the 4th of July, with sparks repeatedly taking pictures out in each route.
The dimensions of the Physique Store was onerous to seize in any single picture, so right here’s a video captured from our preliminary drive by means of the manufacturing facility to supply a way of scale:
Every flash of sparks interprets to one of many hundreds of spot welds wanted to place the physique of the automotive collectively. A number of the welds have been fast and uneventful, with others taking pictures off a pop of sparks 20 toes into the air. VinFast’s Physique Store makes use of a really comparable course of to what we noticed at Tesla’s Physique Store in Fremont, California, after we toured it in 2019. As the method strikes alongside, what was a pile of sheet steel just some minutes earlier emerges as a completely assembled automobile physique, uncooked sheet steel glinting within the mild of the manufacturing facility.
VinFast’s Physique Store is very automated, with ABB robots transferring the in-process automobile physique elements into place, welding them a number of dozen occasions at every station, then transferring them alongside to the following step within the course of. Tesla’s Fremont, California, manufacturing facility was darkish and dismal in comparison with VinFast’s vibrant and spacious Physique Store — although, that was 3 years in the past and Tesla has since built-in castings into its automobile our bodies.
Automobile Common Meeting
After the Physique Store, the body-in-whites run by means of the Paint Store. We didn’t get to tour VinFast’s paint store however we do know that it’s a spray-on course of. Within the Paint Store, paint is sprayed onto the steel our bodies and so they emerge in no matter shade is required for the completed automobile.
From there, the true magic of automotive manufacturing occurs. That is what most individuals think about when they consider automotive factories. It’s Henry Ford fashion manufacturing line processing, with a unique a part of the automobile being bolted on at every step, with the in course of automobile our bodies transferring from step to step down the road. It’s very comparable right this moment, the place the our bodies are fitted with the entire issues that make them an precise automobile. Carpet is utilized to the inside of the automobile. Seats are bolted on, the dashboard is put in, and the entire electronics are wired up.
For electrical autos, there may be one important distinction in that the electrical motors and battery packs are sometimes put in on the decrease chassis and introduced along with the higher physique of the automobile in a course of known as marriage. I’m not right here to say who’s on prime in your marriage, however in automotive manufacturing, it’s at all times the physique.
From there, the wheels are bolted on, home windows put in, and doorways tuned earlier than the completed automobile strikes alongside the road to a high quality inspection station to make sure every part features correctly and the automobile maintains a watertight seal. Whereas we did get to see the VinFast common meeting line, we didn’t see the way it was working because it was lunch time and the entire employees have been on break. Such is life.
The present manufacturing line is primarily producing combustion autos and VinFast plans to halt manufacturing of all petrol autos on the finish of August this 12 months. Will probably be a tough conversion to electrical autos for VinFast and demonstrates their conviction within the electrical automobile area and to the long run which they imagine is absolutely electrical. We’re all about zero emission autos of any sort and couldn’t be extra thrilled about VinFast’s resolution to speed up the adoption of battery electrical vehicles and scooters in Vietnam and world wide.
Battery Manufacturing unit
The core of any electrical automobile is the battery pack, and VinFast confirmed us their manufacturing line devoted to assembling them. The present Battery Manufacturing unit takes pallets of externally-sourced 4,800mAh Samsung SDI 21700 battery cells and assembles them first into modules, then into packs. These packs are then absolutely examined earlier than being pushed out the door, prepared to put in into an electrical automobile.
Because it stands right this moment, the Battery Manufacturing unit is barely a fraction of what’s to return. VinFast is presently constructing its personal in-house lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facility with assist from a number of manufacturing companions. Building of the brand new manufacturing facility in Ha Tinh, Vietnam, began in December and is on monitor to return on-line within the subsequent 2 to three months, in accordance with an organization consultant we spoke with. The brand new manufacturing facility will initially have a manufacturing capability of 100,000 packs per 12 months with plans to ramp as much as a run charge of 1,000,000 packs per 12 months over time.
Constructing battery cells in-house on the new manufacturing facility 190 miles away will streamline the present course of and may assist them drive down the price of batteries for VinFast. It additionally places management of essentially the most vital element of electrical autos into their wheelhouse. If profitable, in-house battery manufacturing might be a key differentiator versus the competitors. The earliest leaders in electrical autos began by sourcing cells from exterior suppliers and inevitably both introduced cell manufacturing in-house or shaped joint ventures with suppliers to supply battery cells.
VinFast is a brand new participant within the electrical automobile area, and whereas it’s onerous to see what they’re doing from a easy press launch or automobile unveiling, seeing really is believing. From what we noticed of guardian firm VinGroup and at VinFast’s manufacturing facility in Hai Phong on our go to, VinFast is pulling out all of the stops to convey their imaginative and prescient of a completely electrical future into being.
From the fleets of absolutely electrical scooters (extra on that in one other replace), to the speedy conversion to 100% electrical automobile manufacturing on the automotive aspect in just some weeks, VinFast is leveraging the complete VinGroup ecosystem to speed up the transition to completely electrical autos as shortly as humanly doable.
Disruption of entrenched industries is tough. It’s doubly so when the disruption is from a startup from a rustic not recognized for producing cars, however VinFast is making regular progress. They reworked this 900 acre plot in Hai Phong from a muddy lot right into a manufacturing facility churning out autos and scooters in simply 21 months and try an analogous feat at a brand new manufacturing facility in North Carolina within the jap United States. It’s go time. That is the place issues get tough.
Everybody we talked to at VinFast welcomed the problem with a smile and addressed it head on with a plausible certainty of their voice. Having seen what they’ve completed in Vietnam already, we’ll eagerly be watching and cheering for them at every step of the way in which. We imagine the long run is electrical and the long run is now, due to all of the entrepreneurs, visionaries, firms, and people working to make their distinctive visions for a greater future a actuality.
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