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The new director of SEAT Martorell arrives at the factory, as it celebrates its first 25 years, with the aim of having the plant provide a key contribution to SEAT being the European leading brand in terms of production and quality in 2025
Rainer Fessel has been the new director of the SEAT factory in Martorell since May last year. Mr Fessel previously headed the FAW-Volkswagen plant in Chengdu (China), an alliance created in 1991 by FAW, a Chinese automobile manufacturer, and the Group. Mr Fessel (Brunswick, 1966) replaced Steffen Reiche, the new chairman of Volkswagen Mexico. From his new position, Mr Fessel, who reports to SEAT's Vice Chairman for Production and Logistics, Mr Christian Vollmer, is directly responsible for the plant that manufactures most cars in Spain.
You are taking over the Martorell plant at a special time: it turns 25, it makes 2,300 cars a day, working at of 90% its capacity. How do you face the challenge of continuing to improve?
Not only does Martorell celebrate its 25th anniversary, but also finds itself in the most successful period of its history. Customers are fascinated with our cars, and this translates into a large number of orders. The challenge now is developing the necessary capacities to meet this demand as quickly as possible from an economic point of view. The increase in productivity, quality and the constant optimisation of costs are part of our day to day.
How will you contribute to making SEAT the leading brand in Europe in terms of production and quality in 2025?
My predecessors have already implemented a production system complying with the Volkswagen Group standards and incorporated tools such as Shopfloor Management, a line management that improves communication and optimises problem resolution on a day-to-day basis. In addition, SEAT has active representation in the working groups of the Consortium and benefits from its know-how. Technically speaking, I have to say that we are at an exceptional level. And in the future, matters such as Industry 4.0 or Smart Factory will have a huge importance for us.
How do you imagine the Martorell Factory of the future?
It will be a smart factory that will increasingly organise itself, in which all those who participate in the process will communicate continuously and directly with each other. Not only the people who work in the plant, but also facilities, machines, products and logistics. This will involve a greater person-robot collaboration. All this will allow us to take advantage of our resources in a more efficient and effective way, guarantee the ergonomics of all job positions and avoid waste as reworks, since failures can be detected and must be corrected at source with the support of data checking systems. All this will have a positive effect on times, quality and costs.
We are in full launch of the Audi A1. What have we learnt from the Audi Q3 that we can take advantage of now?
Obviously, the manufacturing of a vehicle for another brand is a great challenge, and even more if it is a brand with Audi's prestige. In that respect, I consider the Audi A1 a sign of Audi's great confidence in the SEAT team. The preparations for the start of series production have been carried out at an excellent pace and, after the experience that was gained at the time with the Audi Q3, and thanks to the close collaboration with Audi, the management of the start-up of production in Martorell has been optimised. I live all this with great confidence, remaining focused on the car. In addition, the Audi Quality Manager for Segment 3, Oliver Deitermann, is physically in Martorell, so that we can live "the Audi philosophy" of quality intensely, and apply it in our day to day.
How are we preparing our plant for the future releases that are about to come?
We have recently defined the structure for the start of serial production of next year's new models, designating the people in charge. In this respect, we will go even one step further and, as a factory or production centre, we will take on the management of the project and global responsibility long before was the case in the past.
Production will know much better the features of the vehicle right from the outset, and can request and promote solutions long before the serial production begins.
We are in the era of digital change. What is being done in Martorell to turn it into an authentic 4.0 factory?
We are reviewing several issues related to Smart Factory in relation to its viability in SEAT. Evidently, one has to weigh costs and benefits, as well as make a realistic estimate of the implementation period. I am convinced that the digitization of our processes will allow us to be not only the factory with the greatest production, but also the most efficient one.
Digital transformation does not only affect machines, but above all people. What are the plans for Martorell in relation to the capacity development, qualification and training of its more than 8,000 workers?
Clearly, we have to make sure that our employees master every new technology. For this, we anticipate needs and qualify employees both internally and externally, as is the case with suppliers. In the future, products will also change as a consequence, for example, of electro-mobility. Clearly, every time we make a decision related to a change in our processes or products, we also assess and establish the qualification needs of employees that this entails. For example, with the Technic-Training-Centre (TTC) at the Martorell Factory, we have managed to set up a centre to provide employees with tailored training, even in future techniques. In general, we can say that we are on the right track in this respect.
Director of SEAT plant in Martorell
Published in mundoSEAT magazine nº 108 on July 1st, 2018