KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia

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Fast Forward travels to the West side of the state to clear up some misconceptions about modern factories. We visit KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia in West Point. This state of the art facility rolls out 1 new car every minute, and we show the process—going from steel coils all the way to their test track. And while we’re here, we learn who really runs the world (hint: it’s not the “cool kids”).

Biomechanics

Biomechanics

Our ergonomist explains how science meets engineering in Biomechanics, comparing joints to levers—another simple machine.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics

We meet an Ergonomist who’s made of career out of watching other people work.

How To Make a Car

How To Make a Car

Our version is admittedly simplified. We summarize the process, starting with steel coil and finishing by shipping a brand new car out the door.

Transmissions

Transmissions

The mysterious inner-workings of a transmission are based on a “simple” bit of engineering—using Simple Machines, also known as gears.

Presidential Pathways

Special Thanks To

Joanne Mabry, Shonna Cole, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Hardaway, James Watson, Herbert Henderson, Corinne Hodges

KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia

VO

Today on Fast Forward, we're visiting the west side of the state, West Point to be exact, looking for another great Georgia company for this episode. So we...uh oh...great. Our van broke down. How are we ever going to find a company to profile now?

Wait a second!

Welcome to another episode of Fast Forward. Today we're visiting Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia in West Point. And to go along with being one of the biggest industrial projects ever undertaken in the state, they've also got a pretty huge sign.

CORINNE

They're the second largest channel letters in the world.

VO

That's what you need when your factory is 1 mile long with 2 million square feet of shop space, and what it takes to make this many cars. How many you ask?

RANDY

We're running about 360,000 units outta here a year, about one every minute

VO

That's Randy Jackson, and he's kind of important to this operation. But let's find out how to turn this into this. Tell us how to make a car.

CORINNE

The process really begins with the steel coils. They're delivered to our stamping shop.

RANDY

And you're stamping out doors, hoods, trunk lids.

SHONNA

And then those go over to the next shop called the weld shop, and there each of those body parts are welded together by hundreds of robots. And that is the neatest place in the whole plant.

RANDY

Then it basically leaves and moves over into the paint shop.

SHONNA

Where it's spray painted by robots. And it transfers over to the assembly shop. In the general assembly shop all the other parts are added in.

RANDY

You're putting the seats in, you're putting the carpet in, you're putting the headliners in, you're putting tail lights, headlights.

CORINNE

All of those things come together and then we send the vehicle out to the test track.

VO

Test track?

RANDY

Little over two miles around. Checks everything noise, checks vibrations, checks handling, comes back into the site, takes a shower-bath, checks the water, dries off.

JAMES

And from there it goes either by rail or by truck to our dealers.

VO

Nice! And can we go back to that test track? More info on that, please.

HERBERT

Well as soon as the car comes off the line we're the first people to get it.

VO

So can we test our broken down van on the track?

HERBERT

(Laughs) Unfortunately, and I have had many, many requests, but we cannot put our car on the test track.

VO

Figured. In any case, this is a pretty cool job-being the first person to check out every aspect of the car, from the tires to the transmission. And speaking of that...

HERBERT

We're teaching a transmission how to be a transmission.

VO

And that relies on some engineering, because car transmissions use something called the transfer of energy. You see, a transmission "transmits" energy from the engine to the wheels. And it uses a simple machine, in this case gears, to help with the process. Gears are wheels and axles that have teeth. Not those kind of teeth. These kind of teeth. And they mesh with teeth on another gear. This can be used to not only change the direction of motion, but can also magnify the force when syncing gears of different sizes, the same way bicycles become easier or harder to pedal when you change gears.

Okay, testing brand new cars on a 2-mile track is a pretty cool job. What else do the folks around here do?

CORINNE

Production team members can do a variety of different positions here within our assembly process.

SHONNA

Then we have a whole other group of people who are supporting.

VO

And what do you do?

SHONNA

I'm a safety specialist here at Kia Motors.

VO

Another word for this type of work is ergonomics. So what does an ergonomist do?

SHONNA

Ergonomics is the work of watching other people work, and that's good work if you can get it.

VO

Watching other people work! Sign me up for some of that! Even though, believe it or not, this job requires a background in biology. Shonna?

SHONNA

The biology classes relate to how bodies are put together and as that relates to humans it helps me with biomechanics, which is an important part of ergonomics. Biomechanics is the engineering side of the human body. So when we think of a joint, it's a lever. So it's really a human body from the mechanical standpoint. Biomechanics.

VO

Okay. By the way, this place isn't exactly what I was expecting. Isn't factory work supposed to be dirty and repetitive?

CORINNE

Some people might think that if you're working on an assembly line in a factory you're going to do the exact same job over and over again all day. And that's just not true.

JAMES

It's not redundant. It's not what people think about manufacturing.

SHONNA

I think one misconception is that it's really dirty, and KIA is the cleanest factory I've been in.

VO

And?

CORINNE

Some people are really surprised at the amount of robotics that we have inside our facility.

VO

Yeah, I'm one of those people.

CORINNE

For example in our weld shop alone we have more than 280 robots that are joining all these body panels together. So it's really important to be able to interact with the robots, be able to program them, or update, or make changes in order to update the manufacturing process here.

VO

And a lot of schools have robotics clubs that can help with those skills. But let's be honest, those clubs are, well what's the word?

SHONNA

I think it is true that the robotics club is for nerds.

VO

That's it!

SHONNA

But the thing that people forget is that nerds run the world. As soon as you get out of high school and college nerds run the world.

VO

Hmmm. Never thought of it that way. Anything else we should know?

SHONNA

Kia's a good company to work with, the benefits are very good, it's a dynamic job, the people I work with are great.

JAMES

What I enjoy most about my job is working with the people.

RANDY

And we're going to be here a long, long time. So this is not just one generation. It will be multiple generations that will be able to enjoy that.

HERBERT

This is the best place I've ever worked.

VO

It sure sounds like it. And if we can fix our van, or maybe borrow one of those sweet Sorentos, we'll find even more great jobs on the next episode of Fast Forward.

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