Today was the day! We were going to have the Porsche Pick-up Experience! We started our day with a delicious breakfast buffet at our hotel. I went for a fair bit of cheese, bread and fruit. SMS liked the mocha/coffee shots that started our meal. We aren’t exactly sure what it was, other than delicious.
We didn’t give ourselves a ton of time for breakfast so we ate fairly quickly and then headed to the lobby to meet our shuttle. There were three other American pairs, all from the West Coast. Two guys were from the Marin-area, one couple was from Oregon and another from Northern California. The woman from Northern California was very jet-lagged and didn’t say a whole lot, but everyone else was very nice and we talked a bit throughout the day.
The factory was about 20 minutes from center Leipzig. We arrived and met Derrick, an American who had come to Germany 12 years earlier to play American-style football and, almost from day 1, decided to stay. After a coffee break, we were introduced to Julia, our factory tour guide.
The factory tour was amazing. While the Porsche cars are incredible machines, I was even more impressed by the incredibly intricate coordination and precision of the assembly line. The factory produces 650 cars a day, all of which are tested on a dedicated race track for quality assurance. There are over 100 stations for assembly, most of which are done by human workers. There are four robots for windshield and sunroof application. The “marriage” step of uniting the body with the engine chassis is partially automated, with the machine securing the underside screws and humans securing the topside screws.
Although there were so many amazing things about the assembly line and factory, a few things stood out. The logistics supply line is so finely tuned that, on site, there is only a 0.6 day inventory. There is an on-site DHL center along with a train station and airport next door. In order to allow workers to move within the vehicle efficiently, the vehicle doors are removed after preassembly/paint and then put back on near the end. Each car is customized so all parts are collected and delivered specifically for each car. Items are tracked by a pick-light supply system, QR codes and a lot of computer coordination.
The consideration for the worker is pretty amazing. For ergonomically-challenging stations, the team works for 20 minutes and then has a break. All other stations have a break every hour to help maintain concentration. The assembly line also can turn the cars in order to make areas more accessible; eg, the body is turned 90 degrees to allow for undercarriage work rather than have workers strain their necks and arms upward. Another amazing thing about the factory is how quiet it is. Despite all the machinery, the ambient noise is so low that hearing protection isn’t required! I would guess the noise level was about 75-80 dB. Very impressive.
After the factory tour, which was definitely the highlight for me, it was time for the track. David was the Porsche instructor and took SMS out to drive a factory-owned Cayman. After 1/2 hour, the three of us hopped into a Macan and went on the off-road course. I drove part of the time and got stuck in a big divot. I was trying to challenge the car but David merely shook his head and said it wasn’t possible to drive on three wheels because, “Physics.”
After driving, we had a really nice lunch in the Porsche dining room. We felt very posh. I ordered the beef because Julia said the beef was from cows that roamed on the grounds of the off-road course. Specifically, she said, “You might meet the cows you see out there later in the dining room.” So, I don’t know if I actually ate Porsche beef but I am going to tell myself yes!
After lunch, it was time for the car pick-up! So yes, we bought a 718 Cayman. SMS owned a Porsche several years ago and has been thinking about it for awhile. I have wanted to do an European car delivery trip ever since I read about it in high school (random!), so we decided to make this vacation an epic one and go all out. SMS picked out the specs, told me about them and then purchased the car about 4 months prior. It was a really fun experience and definitely built up more anticipation about getting the car. I’ll write more about European Delivery in a later post.
Our first drive was not very exciting because we were caught in traffic. Maybe it was a shift change at the factory? We drove for a couple of hours and SMS said he was hungry. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to eat so I suggested Greek food (hey, it sounded light). SMS responded, “Greek food?!?!” and even though he had said he didn’t care, I figured out, when in Germany, eat German food.
We stopped at Gutmann am Dutzendteich, a cute restaurant on the outskirts of Nuremberg. It was on a little lake and the outside area would have been amazing on a nice day. Since it was cloudy and cool, we went inside. The waitress spoke a little bit of English. The menu was in German but we partially interpreted it. I picked a dish with “kraut” which I thought would be something with sauerkraut. It was actually meat-stuff cabbage rolls and absolutely delicious. Win! I took a picture of the menu and the actual name of the dish is Krautwickel mit Bier-Specksoße und Kartoffelpuree. Say that four times fast!
We finished our evening with the drive to Lichtenstein. We arrived at our hotel at 10 and went straight to bed. It was a little ambitious for our first full day with a huge time change but we made it!