Most often, a third-party observer represents a car company only for its products. Such and such models, their characteristics, less often - a brief acquaintance. The enterprise itself remains in the shadows. I believe that by inviting journalists to visit, the cargo division of the well-known Volvo Truck decided to get to know Russian consumers more closely. Before you - touches to the portrait of the Swedish car factory.
A LITTLE ABOUT PRODUCTION
At any car factory, the most interesting (or, in any case, spectacular) is assembly production. Here, from disparate parts, they get a single whole, the final product is a car. Around him - the main character - a whole action takes place. Workshop - theater, staff - actors, conveyor - stage.
The Volvo Truck Theater has no stage as such. An old Ford would have been hit enough if he had visited Gothenburg - an enterprise with a capacity of 15–20 thousand heavy trucks a year does without his ingenious invention - a conveyor.
A small part of the machines - the NL family of hood assembly - is assembled in separate boxes where ready-made units and assemblies are delivered. By the way, they are made for the whole range at other Volvo enterprises throughout Sweden - gearboxes in Köping, engines in Schövd, axles in Lindesberg, cabins in Umeå.
FL and FH models are assembled, passing from post to post. The method of moving the future truck from one brigade to another is the most interesting feature of this plant. Frame with bridges put on two low carts. Front - with an electric motor and a control panel. When all the necessary operations were completed at the post, one of the workers, as a guide, leads the submissive chassis along to the next brigade. Thus, from the rigid, once and for all arranged conveyor, only a part is left - tools and boxes lined up in a line with accessories. The floor is smooth, laying any new route for electric platforms on it is not a problem. The advantage of such an assembly organization is its great flexibility, the ability to change equipment and even machine models without rebuilding production. An unnecessary post can simply be circled, an additional post can be organized aside; try to do this with a regular pipeline!
The second thing Volvo Truck is surprised at is the warehouse of small components (large ones arrive at the assembly “from the wheels”, bypassing the extra storage phase). There is not a single person here. Automatic conveyors, cranes between racks and the main characters are “reasonable” red platforms that deliver the necessary parts to the right conveyor or post. Having watched their actions, you inevitably begin to compare the warehouse with some aviary or a walking yard - the platforms resemble well-trained our smaller brothers. Here is one, having thoughtfully described the circle, taxied to the rack, took the box with fasteners on board and went to the conveyors; guides laid along the floor are conductors. So she entered the "colleagues" system … missed the oncoming stream … turned … thought … drove up to the "intersection" … crossed it strictly according to the rules … well, finally - and the destination, where she transfers the goods to the roller conveyor.
By God, I’m not surprised if the platform meets with the goods at night and discusses the past weekend or even the escape plan. Machine civilization is just around the corner.
LIFE OF GREAT TRUCKS
It is clear that 99.99 …% of the trucks, leaving the factory, begin their direct duties - transportation. But there are cars with a non-standard fate. They are designed to attract customers and work on the image of the enterprise.
Several trucks are demonstration trucks that carry dealers, picky customers, and curious journalists. Interestingly, for this, Volvo Truck (and the company is not alone in this) has a special closed route near the car factory. In general, the enterprise has three training ranges: a demonstration one, a break-in one, where the trucks just assembled are checked, and a large research one, where serious work is being carried out far from prying eyes.
Before entrusting the steering wheel of a heavy truck, the driver must be properly trained, preferably at the lowest cost for car repairs. To do this, there are simulators, or simulators. There is such a "Volvo" - FH half-truck, projection screens and a computer. Maybe a person who is preparing for the first time to drive, this thing will surprise and teach. In my opinion, the simulator is too far from reality, and the “simulator”, sensing this, is more likely to play than to seriously train. Although, perhaps, this is not useless - after all, cadets of the local “driving school” study on the simulator.
Only one lucky person from a whole generation of trucks has the most honorable role - serving in the Volvo Museum. What is there not only! From the Laplander army all-terrain vehicle in the modification for the Paris-Dakar marathon to the cars of the 1930s, there is a rich exposition of passenger cars, but the museum is a topic of a separate material, and besides, he confessed me to sad thoughts. None of these institutions of domestic factories, alas, can not stand comparison with the Swedish.
So: we visited the factory, visited the museum, "simulated" in the training center, rode on real trucks. But there was a feeling of light information hunger, dissatisfaction: yes, the plant is super-modern, but it has been working for several years now; the museum was recently rebuilt, but we are far from the first visitors; cars are good, but already known to everyone. The writing brother is picky: give exclusive!
As the stars always come to an end in concert programs, so the last item on the program was Volvo VN770, the newest (!) Overseas flagship of the company.
So far, few in Europe can boast an acquaintance with this machine - it was developed by the American branch of Volvo specifically for the local market. Like any large "bonnet", the "770" in the Old World is uncomfortable - a long nose and coupe take extra meters from the strictly limited total length of the road train. It would be naive to think that the car was driven to Gothenburg specifically for us - rather, on the contrary. The sample was delivered to the historical homeland for a comprehensive assessment, and we found it on the lawn in front of the engineering building, surrounded by specialists.
The 770 project is one of the steps towards the unification of all Volvo models. The cargo range includes several families: European FL, FH, “hood” NL, “Americans” stand alone, having maintained continuity with the Whitе GMC. But there is only one firm, and it would be unreasonable to spray forces, making a dozen ununified models. As a result, the externally original “770th”, upon closer inspection, reveals a great resemblance to the European FH12 / 16. In fact, the same cabin, but with the plumage, the same engine, similar chassis (I think there will be even less differences in the future), a truly new only living compartment. But two birds with one stone were killed at once: the cars of the Old and New World were unified, and a new truck, designed in overseas traditions, was presented to customers.
Here from these strokes I have developed a small sketch. You have to judge him, but I can only put my signature.