General Motors has just announced that its São Caetano do Sul plant in Brazil is celebrating 90 years of history, an unprecedented milestone that consolidates it as the greatest icon of the Brazilian automotive industry. Inaugurated in August 1930, the São Caetano plant is the first facility that the company opened in Brazil and is the oldest operating car factory in the South American country.
Despite nine decades of experience under its belt, the São Caetano do Sul plant is also one of the most technologically advanced factories in the world, thanks to the most recent overhaul of the plant to manufacture the all-new Chevrolet Tracker. The renovation introduced the Industry 4.0 concept, with unprecedented technologies in the region that guarantee a higher level of safety, quality and productivity.
“It’s great to see our oldest factory in Brazil complete 90 years with so many innovative technologies and producing market-leading cars,” said Vice President, Manufacturing of GM South America, Luiz Peres, in a statement. “These are the fruits of investments that we have made in the last few years and that have shown our commitment to this market that has made Chevrolet a retail leader for so many years,” he added.
During 2018 and 2019, the São Caetano do Sul plant underwent an exhaustive overhaul that covered the entire manufacturing process. Among the innovations it received is new flexible machinery that moves the carts along the assembly line and provides the most suitable ergonomic condition to execute each operation. A new automated transport system was also launched for all powertrain components.
This important update, in which GM invested 1.2 billion Brazilian reais (about $219 million USD at the current exchange rate), revolutionized the processes at the São Caetano do Sul plant with high levels of automation – up to 92% in the body workshop. In fact, to learn how to operate the new tools, manufacturing employees use augmented reality technologies in their training.
“We renewed our assembly line almost completely. The buildings remained and some increased in size. But inside, we can say that everything is new. Much of this work was carried out with the factory producing the previous models, which made this challenge even greater,” explains the São Caetano do Sul plant’s Executive Director, Andreieli Pinto. “I am proud to have been one of the leaders responsible for this project, which brings us even closer to our goal in delivering the results of a new factory, even with the restrictions that a 90-year-old installation imposes on us,” he added.
Throughout its 90-year history, the São Caetano do Sul plant has manufactured emblematic vehicles that marked each era of the Brazilian automotive market. The facility currently produces four Chevrolet models based on three different platforms, all of which roll off the same assembly line. These vehicles are the Chevrolet Montana, Chevrolet Spin, Chevrolet Joy and new Chevrolet Tracker.