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Dresden visit for "marriage" of my Phaeton

After a little confusion with my dealer and with the help of Pan European I arranged with VW Dresden to attend the “marriage” of my car. That is witness the body and engine/transmission being joined. This is simple for anyone from the UK so in case somebody else wants to try this is what happened.
I contacted Dresden and the English speaking contact there Sandra Domse, Customer Management Coordination Export, Die Glaeserne Manufaktur - The Transparent Factory, asked me for my purchase number so that she could find out the time of the “marriage”.
Having been given that the she was able to find the date and time of the car was being assembled.

“Regarding the witnessing of the assembly of your Phaeton, we have received a revised schedule for the 11th July and would like to adapt our program accordingly.

17.30 h Exclusive transfer service from the Westin Bellevue to the Transparent Factory. Upon your arrival, Ms. Jana Silberbach will welcome you at our customer lounge Ms. Silberbach will personally host you and accompany your visit to the assembly floors

18.30 h Witnessing of the "marriage" on our assembly floors

20.00 h Invitation to Dinner”
I asked her for advice on hotels and was given a choice of five hotels VW recommended and I went ahead and booked one. When I told Sandra where I was staying she wrote back to say that VW could arrange special rates:

“Since you confirmed the reservation of a hotel room at the Westin Bellevue, I would like to verify and adapt your rate to our special arrangement. As indicated, we have special cooperation with these hotels, if you are a guest of the Transparent Factory and make reservations through us.
Regardless of your existing reservation, would you like us to adapt your room rate for you? In this case, would you like Classic or Deluxe? Deluxe is our recommendation since these rooms are located towards the banks of the river Elbe”.
Needless to say I took advantage of the reduction.
I booked Ryanair flights to Leipzig, actually an old Red Army Airforce base at Altenberg between Leipzig and Dresden £76.00 return. There is only one flight to the airport each day and that is the Ryanair one. A hire car was good value booked with the flight and I struck lucky and got a convertible for the price of a base air-con. The drive to Dresden was about an hour and a half but the traffic was heavy but frighteningly fast. The only map trouble was after getting off the autobahn at Dresden where the massive amount of road works and diversions sent me completely the wrong way.
At 17.30 I was picked up by the Business Van a beautifully prepared vehicle with a white suede interior and an array of buttons and tricks that I was unable to fathom on my 5 minute journey.
Business Van

On arrival at the Transparent Factory I was taken to the customer lounge and introduced to Jana Silberbach my guide for the evening. Jana spoke perfect English as did everyone that I spoke to including one guide who was born in Atlanta and wanted to meet some American owners as he was going back this summer. I directed him to this forum as a place to contact such people but I don’t know if he will join. Prospective owners coming to the "Atelier" individualisation studio, customers coming for the “marriage” of their car and those coming to pick up their car all get the individual treatment, while day visitors can get a guided tour though not of the production area.
Customer Lounge View

After coffee we went down to the "Atelier" Individualisation Studio where they have all the special paints, leathers, wood etc and some pretty special visualisation tools. I said to Jana that unfortunately I was not aware of these possibilities when I ordered my car and it is not something that VW UK seems too keen on. I think they are missing a trick here.
From there we went down to the showroom area where they had three Phaetons including a very light silver colour that looked great and a LWB version that seemed great for a Head of State but not much good if you are driving it as all the extra space was for the back passenger.
View of Production

Logistics Unit

Jana then took me to the assembly area where we had to don white coats before being allowed on the production floor, Canadian maple clean enough to eat your dinner off. The centre section of the floor was moving though at such a slow speed that it was difficult to tell at a glance but when it was pointed out it was clear. This is not a mass production factory but a mass customisation factory. The logistics and the way components are provided to the assemblers would allow a wide variety of low volume high specification products to be produced here.
View of Factory (my car on right)

My Engine & Transmission

Before Joining

We wondered along to the point at which the engine/transmission (V6TDI) and body (Tarantella Black SWB) of my car were to be joined and I was surprised to see a photographer and assistant there, I had been taking a few of my own photos having asked permission whenever I got the camera out. At this point is the first of only three robots in the factory and the button to start the robot was pointed out to me and I was beckoned to press it!
Robot Emerges

The parquet floor turned upside down and a robot drill started tightening all the bolts necessary and registered correct fixing of each bolt on a screen.
Screen showing fixing

I asked and was told that more than 90 percent of production at the moment is the V6 TDI engine which is well priced in Europe, economical and more than fast enough on our crowded roads.
We went on and saw more of the production including an incident that showed the problems of a transparent factory. We arrived at the window fixing point it had been a sunny day and at this time of the evening the sun was shining directly on the glass and when the machine tried to register the glass’s dimensions before fixing it could not as the sun was flaring out the picture. This was solved by human intervention and a little masking tape. The robot then applied the adhesive to the glass but again due to the heat at one corner the bead did not stick to the glass. Again the man working at that point spotted a problem and another glass was selected and the process started again.
Robot applies adhesive

After the tour I was presented with photos of the “marriage” of my car and shown to the Terrace where as it was such a nice evening the Restaurant was serving dinner. This is not a factory canteen but a first class restaurant run by one of the best hotels in town and throughout the evening local Dresdeners came for dinner or just a drink. Thanks VW for a great meal.
Dresden at Sunset

At 21.00 I went back to the reception and caught the Business Van back to my hotel after one of the most interesting evenings I can remember.
William


Modified by PanEuropean at 10:54 PM 3-30-2008
 

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Re: Dresden visit for "marriage" of my Phaeton (culverwood)

William...Thank you for a wonderful dialogue...Great to share your experience...Sadly your photos are not coming up...Maybe Michael can help here...
 

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I want to be a bridesmaid at a Phaeton marriage! A very different process than I have witnessed at the GM plants in Lake Orion and Lansing, where robots are plentiful. Absolutely beautiful. Enjoy your lovely new car.
Actually, I may be able to visit Dresden later this year. How much lead time does one need to set up a Transparent Factory visit?
~PC
Modified by PhaetonChix at 10:40 AM 7-13-2005


Modified by PhaetonChix at 11:19 AM 7-14-2005
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Re: (culverwood)

Hi William:
I finally found a few minutes to go through my emails, and noticed your email to me (of a few weeks ago) with the photos. I made a tiny edit to your original post to cause the pictures you hosted to appear at full size (800 pixels wide), rather than in shrunken size.
Great post, great writeup, and great car! I'm glad I had a chance to see your car in person when I was in Cambridge in August.
Michael
 

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Re: A photo tour of the Transparent Factory in Dresden (PanEuropean)

Awesome post!
(as always)
We feel fortunate to have you, Michael, in Vortex, and I'm sure that everybody think the same. Posts as delightfully entertaining like this one are a work of art!
Thanks! http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
 

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Re: A photo tour of the Transparent Factory in Dresden

Nissan-ME is using "Welcome on board" slogan for their Armada ads and in a huge billboard aside the highway, they have the SUV parked with many people will their luggages aproaching and in the background the "Airport terminal" building.
Guess the picture of what building, they're using...



Modified by PanEuropean at 10:58 PM 3-30-2008
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Re: A photo tour of the Transparent Factory in Dresden (Highline)

That is too funny - see if you can get a picture of it, and either post it here, or email it to me and I will post it - it would be a real classic if we could have that on our forum...

Michael
 

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Wow that is awesome. This story is on digg now so its gonna get hella attention.
I thought the phaeton was being discontinued? Must be more popular in europe than here in the states, I have only seen one outside of a dealership.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Re: (uscfan)

Volkswagen of America will no longer import the Phaeton to North America effective the end of February 2006. However, Phaeton production continues in Dresden for all other markets, and the Phaeton is continuing to sell well (and show year over year sales growth) in the European market.
Michael
 

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Re: (uscfan)

Quote, originally posted by uscfan »
Wow that is awesome. This story is on digg now so its gonna get hella attention.

My best friend follows sites like that and sent me this link... I was like, "What are you doing on the Vortex? That's my job!"
Awesome thread as usual, Michael. I actually had not seen that level of detail and description into the Factory yet. Incredible.
 

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Re: A photo tour of the Transparent Factory in Dresden (PanEuropean)

Quote, originally posted by PanEuropean »
That is too funny - see if you can get a picture of it, and either post it here, or email it to me and I will post it - it would be a real classic if we could have that on our forum...

Michael

The best I could do today (while driving)



One of these days I'll try and get a better one
 
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