2015 is above all a pivotal year for Renault’s Palencia site, located 240 kilometres north-west of Madrid. After starting volume production of Renault’s successful crossover Kadjar in the spring, after its maiden appearance at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the site is following through with launch of New Mégane, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The Palencia workforce has more than doubled in the last eighteen months, from 1,900 to 4,200.
Palencia had already begun the transformation in the wake of the Spanish competitive performance agreements signed in late 2012, a crucial factor in the plant’s being assigned with production of these new models. With production volumes on the rise, the Renault manufacturing excellence plan takes on even greater relevance as a crucial challenge for the Palencia facility. The plan’s four key points are: excellence in working practice, productivity, supplier strategy and labour relations performance.
A new sheet metal shop with its brand new orange and black 874 robots and auto-guided vehicles (AGVs) running in operation along the wide alleys strings and pulled by a workforce of 800 gives an atmosphere of a plant of Future.
After Maubeuge and Douai , Palencia is the third Renault plant to bring in a light booth for paintwork quality, a new inspection system developed by the Process Engineering and Design team on the basis of experience shared with Daimler.
The grey-walled booth emits standardized reference light, the intensity and orientation of which enables operators to spot very minor colour differences, and thereby check colour harmony between body parts painted at the plant and those brought in from outside suppliers, for further improvement in perceived quality. On New Mégane, the doors are painted in the Palencia paint shop, the bumper in another shop at Palencia, and the hatch at an outside supplier’s plant.
Kadjar and New Mégane are based on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s new modular architecture, CMF C/D (for “Common Module Family”), much like New Espace and Talisman (built at the Douai plant in France).
With a modular architecture, different vehicles share inter-compatible subsystems not visible to the customer, with the attendant cost rationalization advantages. Specifically, this concerns the engine compartment, cockpit, front under-body unit, rear under-body unit and electrical and electronic subsystems.
Aspects visible to the customer, on the other hand, are highly diverse. At the Palencia assembly line, with its large “S” shape specially adapted to the dimensions of the new cars, operators have to manage very extensive diversity in vehicle equipment and the workstations to handle them. Examples include the 4Control system, available on New Mégane GT, four-wheel drive, available on Kadjar, and a broad choice of wheels, with a parts counts that approaches a hundred different items.
One hundred percent of vehicles undergo appearance and functionality tests as they come off the production line, prior to dynamic testing on an outdoor test track.