Stuttgart - Mercedes Factory
For the 2nd time, my dad bought a Mercedes directly from the factory in Stuttgart. It comes with a lot of extras including a tour of the factory where you can see cars in the process of being assembled. It was really fun to watch.
So far on this trip, I've visited all sorts of classic structures where I see craftsmanship from hundreds of years ago that took several years, even lifetimes, to build. They are wonderful to see. Fast-forward to today where in a single day, thousands of parts from all over the world are put together to form a machine that can go hundreds of kilometers per hour.
Being in the factory felt like I was in a transformers musical. There are 2-story robots moving at break-neck speeds, popping and locking, lifting tons of metal, gluing, laser welding, painting, and screwing together a thing of engineering beauty. As a computer programmer, I can appreciate from a fine-tuned perspective the amount of man hours, testing, and generational experience that it takes to put together the kind of cars we have today. And to build a system of programmed robots that make this process as fast and efficient as it is must be a proud achievement for engineering.
For example, I saw the part where the dashboard is put inside the frame and screwed in. The whole dashboard, practically the width of the entire car and weighing about 100 pounds, is carefully and precisely maneuvered into the frame of the car and screwed in by a single robot arm. There are millimeters of space between the dashboard and the steel frame when the robot arm places the dash in the exact position, holds it in place, and screws it in. This is all done within a matter of seconds. In comparison, it takes 3 people and several hours to move my bed and assemble it, and it doesn't have 350 horsepower and all-wheel drive.
Tomorrow I will go to Italy where I am fully looking forward to appreciating a different type of art: food. I'm going to Bologna where food is so important, they have a sauce named after them.