General Motors recently opened a new production line at its Joinville engine plant, located in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. Following an investment of 1.9 billion reais – or about $472 million USD – in buildings and new technologies, the company quadrupled the size of the Joinville plant to produce the latest-generation engines that equip the new Chevrolet Onix and Onix Plus (sedan).
“The Joinville plant, which has been among the most modern and sustainable in the region and in the world, now includes one of the most highly automated powerplant operations. This has been made possible by recent investments,” said GM South America Vice-President Marcos Munhoz in a statement.
Thanks to this significant investment, the plant’s production capacity has also been increased. With the inauguration of the new assembly line, which uses 90 robots and another 627 highly automated components, maximum production of the Joinville factory has risen from 174,000 to 410,000 engines a year.
The plant’s new line is in charge of manufacturing two new 1.0-liter three-cylinder engines, a naturally aspirated unit and a turbocharged one, which equip the second generation of the Chevrolet Onix. These new, eight-generation Ecotec engines respectively produce 82 and 116 horsepower, and are also expected to be installed in future Chevrolet models sold in South America.
According to General Motors, many of the Joinville plant processes now include a high level of automation which meet Industry 4.0 standards. “For example, we have self-guided forklifts carrying out the supply of machined components and assembled engines. About 20 percent of our forklift fleet is autonomous and the rest makes efficient use of clean energy,” says General Manager of the Joinville plant Luiz Fernando Duccini.
Implemented technological advancements include water, compressed air and energy consumption monitoring on each line, as well as a more modern production process in both the component machining area and the engine assembly line. These new control parameters allow for more efficient use of resources.
In addition, the 90 plant robots use an integrated and intelligent system that monitors all parts by their serial number, allowing for manufacturing and quality data logging. “This means we can track all parts of any engine in real time, which ensures better quality and accuracy throughout the manufacturing process,” explained Duccini.
Here are some numbers regarding the GM Joinville plant expansion:
- More than 410,000 hours invested in the installation of the new tooling.
- The assembly area covers 503,750 square feet (46,800 m2), equivalent to nine soccer fields.
- 627 new assembly components installed.
- 90 robots.
- 512 containers filled with machinery and equipment.
- Suppliers from 15 different countries.