To understand the car manufacturing process, you have to understand the underlying supply chain that drives domestic vehicle assembly. Today's cars are primarily "sourced out" to produce various sub-assemblies in over 4,000 disparate locations as far away as China. This means a car's "production" plant is an active assembly point, where skilled workers and robotic systems bring together all of the necessary loose components to create a final product on a "just-in-time" basis.
The chassis of the car is the baseline component. All other parts are integrated on, or within the chassis. This is typically a welded frame that's initially attached to a conveyor that moves along a production line. As the frame progresses, the car is literally "built from the frame up" to create a final product. Parts that are sequentially applied to the chassis include the engine, front and rear suspension, gas tank, rear-end and half-shafts, transmission, drive shaft, gear box, steering box, wheel drums and the brake system.
Once the "running gear" is integrated within the frame, the body is constructed as a secondary process. First, the floor pan is positioned properly, then the left and right quarter panels are positioned and welded to the floor structure. This step is followed by adding the front/rear door pillars, the body side panels, rear deck, hood and roof. The entire process is typically executed by robotic machines.
Before painting the vehicle, a quality control team inspects the body as it sits. Skilled workers look for dents, abrasives or other deformations that could create a finishing problem when undergoing the painting process. Once this step is completed, the car is automatically "dipped" with primer, followed by a layer of undercoat and dried in a heated paint bay. Once the primer/undercoat process is finished, the car is again "dipped" with the base coat and again dried before moving the assembly to the next stage.
After the structure is entirely painted, the body is moved to the interior department in the plant. There, all of the internal components are integrated with the body. These components include: instrumentation, wiring systems, dash panels, interior lights, seats, door/trim panels, headliner, radio, speakers, glass, steering column, all weather-striping, brake and gas pedals, carpeting and front/rear fascias.
The two central major assemblies are next mated for final setup and roll-out. Again, this process is executed via computer and control machines to ensure speed, and perfect the fit between the body assembly and the chassis. Once the car is rolling on its own, it's driven to the final quality control point, inspected and placed in a waiting line for transportation to its final dealer destination.
- Photo Credit Olga Serdyuk/iStock/Getty Images
Robots in Car Manufacturing
After Henry Ford invented the assembly line, the construction of automobiles, cars and trucks remained unchanged throughout most of the 20th century....
What Is Manufacturing Process Planning?
Manufacturing process planning is the conceptualization of a process, from the raw materials through the finished stages. A manufacturer attempts to build...
What Is a Manufacturing Process?
Provides a description of the manufacturing process, including how 21st century processes are changing the ways companies produce products.
What Is the Manufacturing Assembly Process?
A manufacturing assembly line is a production process consisting of automated and manual steps. At each step, a component or piece is...
How to Manage Production With Quality Control
Quality control is the traditional technique that companies have utilized to manage quality. In the past, quality control methods only reacted to...
Five Sources of Process Variation in Manufacturing
Manufacturing processes have many factors that influence their success, and in each, the possibility of variation is introduced. The specific types of...
Steps in Engineering Design Process
Whether it is in response to a problem, need or goal or simply a whimsical idea, all the man-made objects and paraphernalia...
5-Step Decision Making When Buying a Car
Never forget you are in charge of the process when it comes to buying a car. The retail car sales industry has...