By Benjamin Spillman, Reno Gazette Journal
Big numbers are one way to appreciate Tesla’s gargantuan Nevada Gigafactory.
Operating 24-hours per day in shifts, workers produce enough battery packs and drive units in a week to power 5,300 of Tesla’s Model 3 sedans.
Tesla says at 5.4 million square feet, roughly equivalent to 50 Home Depot stores, the factory is just 30 percent of its potential size and is already producing more batteries than all other carmakers combined.
With more than 7,000 Tesla workers, the factory is responsible for increasing manufacturing employment in the Reno-Sparks area by 55 percent since 2014, according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Another way to appreciate it is to feel it through your ears and toes. On Dec. 3, the Reno Gazette Journal got a rare glimpse inside the factory.
Hallways, production areas and even the offices and conference rooms seem to exist in a state of steady vibration that, depending on your location in the building, is punctuated by loud warning beeps from autonomous vehicles or whirring from robots large and small.
“It is not elaborate, mahogany offices here, this is where work gets done,” said Chris Lister, vice president of operations for the Gigafactory.
Lister was speaking from a carpeted work area stocked with hundreds of sparse workspaces where design engineers and teams from planning, production and engineering work side-by-side at tall tables arranged in long rows.
That factory floor is a hive of activity by human workers, robotic arms, conveyor lines and autonomous vehicles. They’re working together to assemble battery cells into configurations that will power Tesla Model 3 sedans and other energy products.
Panasonic makes the cells, which look a little like oversized AA batteries, in one part of the factory before Tesla’s human and robot workforce assemble them to be used in cars and batteries that power homes and businesses.
The noise and vibration that seeps from the factory floor into the office area is a constant reminder that every corner of the Gigafactory is part of what Tesla CEO Elon Musk refers to as “the machine that builds the machine.”
With that machine under constant refinement as Musk and others chase ambitious production goals it makes for an environment filled with Sturm und Drang.
Read the rest of the story at rgj.com.