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[From the Scene] Porsche’s Leipzig plant shines with people-first orientation

Carmaker’s sole factory for Macan, Panamera boasts daily production capacity of 550 vehicles for worldwide shipping

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : May 26, 2024 - 13:56

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Porsche's manufacturing plant in Leipzig, Germany (Porsche) Porsche's manufacturing plant in Leipzig, Germany (Porsche)

LEIPZIG, Germany -- Bright rays of sunlight shone through the roof Thursday morning at the assembly building of Porsche’s manufacturing plant in Leipzig, Germany, enlivening the atmosphere of the busy production site.

The German sports carmaker’s Leipzig plant shattered the traditional image of auto factories being rather grey and stifling as The Korea Herald visited the site as a part of this year’s International Transport Forum held at the Congress Center Leipzig from Wednesday to Friday.

As the sunlight lifted the mood of the workplace, the workers at the Leipzig plant moved swiftly and meticulously.

“The employees are working on the principle of rotation,” said Frank Reichel, a customer care official at Porsche. “They change their station from hour to hour. With this rotation, we avoid (them) getting bored.”

The vending machines installed a few steps away from the assembly lines were one of the most noticeable features that reflected how Porsche aimed to prioritize the welfare of its employees. There were also couches and tables set up next to the production lines.

“These areas are so-called ‘Team Islands’ for the employees,” said Reichel. “They can use these areas for team meetings, for breaks and so on.”

According to the official, the average age of the factory employees at the Leipzig site is 40 years old, which is considered much younger when compared to the average age of factory workers at other auto brands. The total number of employees at Porsche Leipzig is estimated at 4,600, including administrative workers.

Porsche's manufacturing plant in Leipzig, Germany (Porsche) Porsche's manufacturing plant in Leipzig, Germany (Porsche)

Another feature of the Leipzig plant was the level of automation. It boasts a nearly 90 percent automatization rate in the body and paint shops. Overall, nearly 2,000 robots are working in the production line.

The overhead conveyor system kept carrying big auto parts such as engines and powertrains as well as vehicle bodies and assembled vehicles -- the Macan and Panamera as the factory is the automaker’s sole site that can produce them. Korea became the third-largest market for the Panamera as Porsche sold 1,818 units in the country last year.

The Leipzig plant is capable of producing 550 vehicles per day with the production of the Macan and Panamera taking 48 and 60 hours, respectively. Of the total production, 40 percent is delivered to the Asia and Pacific region, 30 percent to Europe and 26 percent to North America.

“The three different types of cars -- (internal) combustion cars, E-hybrid cars and electric cars -- are on the same line all the time so it’s highly flexible production,” said Reichel.

The Leipzig plant began operation in 2002 as the second Porsche production site after the company’s headquarters in Stuttgart. It commemorated the two-millionth Porsche vehicle to be built there in April last year.

The Porsche factory in Leipzig received the Factory of the Year award from the assessment by Kearney, an American global management consulting firm; Suddeutscher Verlag Veranstaltungen, a German event management firm; and Produktion, a German trade magazine, in March this year. The sports car manufacturer’s plant came on top among nearly 100 factories worldwide.

Porsche's manufacturing plant in Leipzig, Germany (Porsche) Porsche's manufacturing plant in Leipzig, Germany (Porsche)