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  • Mid Engine Assembly Ramp Up Factors

    Whether The December C8 Start Of Production (SOP) Rumor Is True Or Not, There Will Be Some BGA Initial Assembly “Production Ramp Up” Factors.


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    Wow, the “December is C8 start of production (SOP)” rumor has exploded, already been stated on almost about every Corvette automedia site. For those who missed it, and emphasizing that it is still unconfirmed, here it is:

    Quote from NiceRide, “We were (GM supplier) notified that the SOP has been moved to December.” If you wish to learn more from our previous discussions of his comment:

    https://www.midenginecorvetteforum.c...on-in-december

    But as we wait without any confirmed SOP date, we could still mentally envision what that might mean in terms of first C8 customer cars being constructed, with the understanding that whether that rumor is totally accurate or wrong by a few months, the process of BGA gearing up to be ready to eventually produce the C8 at or near the current 11.5 Corvettes being assembled on a per hour (now averaging 93 new C7’s daily), would involve most or perhaps all of the following factors.

    First, the current assembly line will cease all new Corvette C7 assembly at some point. Despite repeated rumors of two separate assembly lines, there will be no separate assembly lines, and thus even if the C7 were to continue production co-mingled with the C8 on the one line (which I personally believe is not the case), the entire BGA Plant will be shut down for a time period.

    How long would the Plant shut down be? No one outside of GM knows, but a best guess based on past timetables, is that is would be shut down between six to ten weeks for the process of changing out existing equipment, then installing new components and procedures.

    As the jobs BGA employees would be doing to assemble the C8 will very different to what they are current doing, BGA staff would obviously need to be trained on their ME assembly tasks. How will they learn their new tasks when, during the equipment changeover, there would be little or no equipment to practice on?

    The past provides an excellent answer to that question. They would be trained using the same excellent training process used during the 13 week long, fall of 2017, shutdown (when the plant was completely gutted of all internal equipment). During that time, the repetitive combination of of sequential “virtual training, then hands on training,” would again be implemented, as it was described in the below video presentation made in 2017 by BGA Plant Manager Kai Spande.



    We do not know when C8’s SOP will be, but since the first work day in December is Monday the 2nd, if the rumor were accurate, the first assembly of C8 customer vehicles could start on that date.

    Turning backwards to see what we learned during the C7’s start of production, it was then a process of slowly increasing rate of production, i.e., just like during the summer of 2013, the initial assembly of the new Corvette generation would first start at a rate of just one or two MEs per hour. It would then progressive ramp up as subsequent, incremental, assembly mastery were achieved.

    As GM completes each of the initial cars at that smart but snails pace, the finished Corvettes would be dissected by a team of GM quality control specialists (QCS), and again like the C7 process, GM would import additional QCS staff from other plants to further initially accomplish a near micrometer look at the fit of each part to the next, the combined functionality of every single sub-system of the car, the overall vehicle performance efficiency compared to known standards, and the efficiency of the new assembly line procedures.

    I worked assembling vehicles an OEM vehicle factory, so the key issue becomes not just first/initial step learning, but developing “muscle memory,” which as we know is a developed skill that works by repetitive performance of tasks in a continual time frame. Thus, if early December is the C8’s SOP, with however the typical two week Christmas/New Year’s holiday break at BGA, that annual vacation could interfere with the progress muscle mass training process; so GM might figure out a means of reducing the typical two week holiday schedule to the degree possible? Alternatively, if the rumor of December SOP is wrong, this would become a total non-consideration.

    BGA will, after that holiday break ends (whenever that is), still not be ready to assemble the units approaching the final 11.5 vehicle/hour pace, remaining short at least a couple of weeks more of additional assembly “fine tuning,” and thus not reach the desired hourly assembly previous rate of 11.5 units/hour around perhaps the end of January, and perhaps even into February, for it literally took months during the C7 assembly-ramp-up transitional process to reach its maximum vehicle per hour assembly rate.

    Secondly, might GM have designed a different hourly unit target completion rate, other than 11.5/hour, for the C8?

    Major Factor: Whereas the C7 quality control hold period was roughly three weeks, most expect that due to the complexities of mid engine vehicle assembly, with so many processes being massively different from assembling the C7, that the QCH (quality control hold) for the C8 would be a full four weeks long. It could be even a little longer.

    As can be glimpsed by above, even if the timing were different from the December SOP rumor, BGA will embark on a very complex learning curve to produce our customer C8’s. However...

    IF everyone of the previous assumptions and the December SOP rumor were to hold true, the first customer could receive his/her beautiful C8 some around a late January or an early February time frame!
    Last edited by John; 03-04-2019, 05:25 PM.
    GBA Black; HTO Twilight/Tension interior; Z51 & Mag Ride; E60 lift; 5VM visible carbon fiber package; 5ZZ high wing; FA5 interior vis CF; ZZ3 engine appearance; 3LT; Q8T Spectra Gray Tridents; J6N Edge Red Calipers; SNG Edge Red Hashmarks; VQK Splash Guards; RCC Edge Red engine cover; VJR illuminated sill plates. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 23 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

  • #2
    Great detail of the process John. Basically we have a year to wait to get the cars in our hands. Wow
    Last edited by Fasttoys; 03-04-2019, 08:18 PM.

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    • #3
      Good thing we all excel in the patience department (LOL).
      GBA Black; HTO Twilight/Tension interior; Z51 & Mag Ride; E60 lift; 5VM visible carbon fiber package; 5ZZ high wing; FA5 interior vis CF; ZZ3 engine appearance; 3LT; Q8T Spectra Gray Tridents; J6N Edge Red Calipers; SNG Edge Red Hashmarks; VQK Splash Guards; RCC Edge Red engine cover; VJR illuminated sill plates. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 23 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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      • #4
        That was a really good overview regarding the transition from the current build process to the new build process. Just a couple of thoughts that are based on nothing more than my opinions having been an owner of Corvettes for the past 50+ years.

        First, I don't believe that the ME will be any more 'complex' then the current generation. It will surely be 'different' but not necessarily more complex. Heads would roll if the new product was more complex to build than the current generation. Remember.... the folks on the assembly line aren't designing or engineering the car. They will just be putting sub-assemblies in place and plugging 'em in and/or fastening them together. It will still have 4 wheels, an engine, transmission, suspension, glass, and soft sided stuff (seats, etc), and a bunch of the misc stuff. Putting a redesigned component in a different place won't make it more complex..... just different.

        That leads me to my second opinion. There will continue to be a FE Corvette that will keep the faithful happy. Maybe it will be a facelifted C7 or a C7.1+.... and it will come down the same line much like the Asians and Europeans do now.

        I also feel rather strongly that when the ME reveal takes place, while pricing will likely be avoided, in lieu of the traditional, "If you can afford the current Corvette, you will be able to afford the new ME", we will more than likely hear, "A well equipped new ME will be slotted in somewhere between the current Z06 and the ZR1".

        …..And don't worry about the brand disappearing since there will be plenty of reasons (besides price) to continue to embrace the new FE Corvette. Exciting times are just around the corner.....

        Again, just my opinion.
        2020 HTC Torch Red with lots of goodies. Built in September. Museum Delivered in October......

        Other toys in the garage: Ferrari California, BMW i8 Roadster, Bentley Flying Spur

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        • #5
          I recently had dinner with my friend who is an OEM supplier for the C8. In conversation I casually mentioned that SOP is rumored to be December. He avoided discussing it - not confirming or denying.

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          • #6
            Thanks good analysis, but what if the actual pricing parameter announced at the ME’s reveal is, “if your can afford a C7 Grand Sport, you can afford a entry 2020 C8.”

            As to the concept that building an ME is just as easy as a FE, the complexity of the many part components within the last four feet of an ME, the way they need to almost be “interwoven” to fit into the compressed space, is a whole another animal. In a FE you have many major parts located in one end, yet many other major parts at the other end. In an ME almost all in the front of the car is the steering, front axle and part of the cooling system, yet in the back is the rear axle, the entire powertrain including every single accessory mounted onto the motor, the driving suspension, the other part of the cooling system, the complete exhaust system and so much more. You might ask Fasttoys about his experience about taking apart the rear of his R8 ME to make what should have been a simple repair (and would have been in a FE), but was a lengthy and super massive effort in his R8.

            Maybe we will just disagree right now. We shall see about pricing at the reveal.

            We strongly agree that exciting times are just around the corner.

            GBA Black; HTO Twilight/Tension interior; Z51 & Mag Ride; E60 lift; 5VM visible carbon fiber package; 5ZZ high wing; FA5 interior vis CF; ZZ3 engine appearance; 3LT; Q8T Spectra Gray Tridents; J6N Edge Red Calipers; SNG Edge Red Hashmarks; VQK Splash Guards; RCC Edge Red engine cover; VJR illuminated sill plates. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 23 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RedDropTop View Post
              I recently had dinner with my friend who is an OEM supplier for the C8. In conversation I casually mentioned that SOP is rumored to be December. He avoided discussing it - not confirming or denying.
              Smart friend. He wants to keep his job.
              GBA Black; HTO Twilight/Tension interior; Z51 & Mag Ride; E60 lift; 5VM visible carbon fiber package; 5ZZ high wing; FA5 interior vis CF; ZZ3 engine appearance; 3LT; Q8T Spectra Gray Tridents; J6N Edge Red Calipers; SNG Edge Red Hashmarks; VQK Splash Guards; RCC Edge Red engine cover; VJR illuminated sill plates. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 23 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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              • #8
                It is going to be very interesting how the C8’s pricing is going to turn out. It is going to also be very interesting as to whether the C7 continues production after the C8 starts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tooold2race View Post
                  That was a really good overview regarding the transition from the current build process to the new build process. Just a couple of thoughts that are based on nothing more than my opinions having been an owner of Corvettes for the past 50+ years.

                  First, I don't believe that the ME will be any more 'complex' then the current generation. It will surely be 'different' but not necessarily more complex. Heads would roll if the new product was more complex to build than the current generation. Remember.... the folks on the assembly line aren't designing or engineering the car. They will just be putting sub-assemblies in place and plugging 'em in and/or fastening them together. It will still have 4 wheels, an engine, transmission, suspension, glass, and soft sided stuff (seats, etc), and a bunch of the misc stuff. Putting a redesigned component in a different place won't make it more complex..... just different.

                  That leads me to my second opinion. There will continue to be a FE Corvette that will keep the faithful happy. Maybe it will be a facelifted C7 or a C7.1+.... and it will come down the same line much like the Asians and Europeans do now.

                  I also feel rather strongly that when the ME reveal takes place, while pricing will likely be avoided, in lieu of the traditional, "If you can afford the current Corvette, you will be able to afford the new ME", we will more than likely hear, "A well equipped new ME will be slotted in somewhere between the current Z06 and the ZR1".

                  …..And don't worry about the brand disappearing since there will be plenty of reasons (besides price) to continue to embrace the new FE Corvette. Exciting times are just around the corner.....

                  Again, just my opinion.
                  5 quick comments.
                  1. Assembly: Autoline After Hours a few years ago had a previous executive from GM talking about the ME. He was part of the previous team with Dave Hill. He said it is more difficult to build an ME as it adds complexity, more time to assemble and a lot more cost. I will look for that video and post it later in this thread. My Opinion based on what I read, watched, worked on and after owning 7 mid-engine sports cars. The rear engine will add a few more complexities to the assembly line process compared to building a front engine. Some Issues for the team: Engine and trans, no Torque Tube, rear crash structure, less space & more lines from radiators going to the front & rear of the car. This ME is a completely different build compared to the previous C5 to C6 to C7 which would be an easier transition than going to FE to ME. I think many will be amazed when they finally open up tours at BG when building the ME.
                  2. FE: At first I was told GM wanted to keep the FE & build both cars at the same time. That changed a while back thanks to cost & complexity, and new electrification with the changing auto industry. You can thank finance ( The Bean Counters)
                  3. In addition to my opinion, I feel the Corvette will hold close to 60% of their loyal fans moving to an ME & will easily replace the other 40% that can't except change with new buyers.
                  4. Pricing: Opinion, since I believe based on what I have heard no FE for now or near future, the new ME will be priced in line with the last generation C7 Z51. We will hear: "If you can afford the current Corvette, you will be able to afford the new ME" My guess is a starting MSRP under 70K
                  5. ME/FE: My Opinion to your last comment: No need to worry we hear you loud and clear with over 9000 FE Corvettes on the ground & more pilling up by the day We have change direction with a new design that will knock your socks off. We are finally doing what we been talking about for over 45 years & you will now have your affordable mid-engine Corvette, the best Corvette we have ever made.
                  Again, just my opinion, based on data and what I been reading and hearing from reliable sources. No dog in the race and was hoping GM kept making an FE.
                  Last edited by Fasttoys; 03-04-2019, 11:04 PM.

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                  • #10
                    With your owning and working on seven mid engine’s, your opinions and knowledge are good information to me. I like that you expressed them as opinions.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      To me, it depends on skill sets when working on cars that is why I said opinion. All I can say I have turned a lot of wrenches and when I work on the exotics especially ME I just sit back and go how the heck can I get in that tiny space to work on it & how did they do this at the factory. What makes most ME so difficult to work on is the higher wider rear sides panels pushes you further away while the engine is sitting so low. Some you had to drop the motor like My previous Cayman GTS or go from underneath the car. They have a top panel under the carpet but it's worthless.

                      I actually owned more than 7 ME cars if you count my 85 Mr2 & 91 Mr2, which both were modified back in the day.

                      Pics below is my Audi R8. Had to work on the rear trans & decided to replace the exhaust with custom Inconel alloy exhaust. The dealer wanted 20 hours just in labor $$$ just for the exhaust,
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by Fasttoys; 03-05-2019, 12:06 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Fasttoys View Post
                        To me, it depends on skill sets when working on cars that is why I said opinion. All I can say I have turned a lot of wrenches and when I work on the exotics especially ME I just sit back and go how the heck can I get in that tiny space to work on it & how did they do this at the factory. What makes most ME so difficult to work on is the higher wider rear sides panels pushes you further away while the engine is sitting so low. Some you had to drop the motor like My previous Cayman GTS or go from underneath the car. They have a top panel under the carpet but it's worthless.

                        I actually owned more than 7 ME cars if you count my 85 Mr2 & 91 Mr2, which both were modified back in the day.

                        Pics below is my Audi R8. Had to work on the rear trans & decided to replace the exhaust with custom Inconel alloy exhaust. The dealer wanted 20 hours just in labor $$$ just for the exhaust,
                        Does it make a difference to difficulty of working on it, whether the ME engine is installed/accessed from the top or from the bottom? I suspect that the C8 will be accessed from the top. Seems that, The European ME are accessed from the bottom and some structural pieces of the car are above the engine. I owned a Pantera in the 70s. there was not much back there except the engine and transaxle, as I remember it from now. And it was easy access. You could see the ground.. Times have changed and construction and the volume of stuff in a car is more now. Maybe top access will be the way for the ME C8 and hopefully more repair friendly

                        The Corvette has always been designed for repair friendliness. Is the C7?

                        The relative difficulty of the factory build process is an engineering function. The reduction of the amount of time and difficulty required to assemble the C8 9 or any car ) is its own design virtue, separate and apart from the other design objectives. Time can be reduced by design.
                        Last edited by SheepDog; 03-05-2019, 05:06 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Where are all the C8 coming from that we see on the road. These just come from a clay model? So are the frames and body made just for a few cars to test. Sorry for the questions as I don't build them I just drive them.
                          frankb

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                          • #14
                            Good questions Frank. The original test mules were made at a special facility in Warren, Michigan. Those mini-mini facilities were then taken apart and shipped to BGA approximately the beginning of last summer. The first C8 built on the assembly line in BGA was around Friday, July 13th. The second C8 IVERS was build about a month later. About 40 been told that have been made in BGA by now. Every one we have seen on the road testing since September, including the ones at the Nurburgring, were made at BGA. However, it is not currently an efficient nor an easy process to build them at BGA. After the Plant is shut down and reconfigured, estimated sometime toward the end of this year if the December SOP were later confirmed, then and only then would the first customer ME be assembled down the revised, C8-friendly assembly line.
                            GBA Black; HTO Twilight/Tension interior; Z51 & Mag Ride; E60 lift; 5VM visible carbon fiber package; 5ZZ high wing; FA5 interior vis CF; ZZ3 engine appearance; 3LT; Q8T Spectra Gray Tridents; J6N Edge Red Calipers; SNG Edge Red Hashmarks; VQK Splash Guards; RCC Edge Red engine cover; VJR illuminated sill plates. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 23 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SheepDog View Post
                              Does it make a difference to difficulty of working on it, whether the ME engine is installed/accessed from the top or from the bottom? I suspect that the C8 will be accessed from the top. Seems that, The European ME are accessed from the bottom and some structural pieces of the car are above the engine. I owned a Pantera in the 70s. there was not much back there except the engine and transaxle, as I remember it from now. And it was easy access. You could see the ground.. Times have changed and construction and the volume of stuff in a car is more now. Maybe top access will be the way for the ME C8 and hopefully more repair friendly

                              The Corvette has always been designed for repair friendliness. Is the C7?

                              The relative difficulty of the factory build process is an engineering function. The reduction of the amount of time and difficulty required to assemble the C8 9 or any car ) is its own design virtue, separate and apart from the other design objectives. Time can be reduced by design.
                              To answer your? on the difficulty accessing the engine. All mid-engine cars I have worked on have a maximum of 3 access points to get to the engine.
                              1. Remove large or multiple protective panels under car. Gives you access under car, best to have a lift in the garage, jack stands are not always best.
                              2. You can access the motor from the top. Some issues that you face. The engines are very low and forward and the side panels are wider in the rear of the car plus it's taller in the back than a front engine car that usually slopes. Walk up to the rear of your C7 and compare it to the front which is lower. Imagine your engine is in the trunk and low and forward facing in that trunk.
                              3. Sometimes their is a hidden panel in the firewall that you can access in the cabin behind the seats, it can be removed. This allows you to get to the belts an alternator or the front of the engine or side depending on engine placement.
                              One reason my R8 oil change was 225 and up depending on the dealer. 10 Q of oil with a dry sump and many drain plugs and multiple panels under the car that needed to be removed. It added an hour labor compared to most front engine cars. My R8 V8 alternator was shaft driven on a 8500 RPM red line motor. When it failed the only way to remove it was pulling the motor, yes pulling the motor. Some top R8 mechanics figured a way to remove a bunch of stuff on the top and side of the motor and lift it up out of its cradle and squeeze the alternator out. It's a big job 700 dollar part cost you over 4k to install. The complexity of rear engine is more of less being around with most mechanics never being trained to work on them. Their is just not that many of them around most cars are front engine cars. Even though the engine and trans are similar things are in different places and are not always easy to acess of find.
                              Last edited by Fasttoys; 03-05-2019, 09:41 AM.

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