The historic Peugeot site has just completed a 5-year modernization plan with 200 million euros invested. Enough to be part of the most efficient industrial sites of Stellantis in Europe today, with the production of the successor to the 3008 already assured.
Transforming a historic industrial site, which started its automobile production in 1912, into a modern factory, well prepared for the challenges of the beginning of the 21st century: this is what Stellantis has just achieved in Sochaux.
A secure future
The group has just completed a 200 million euro modernization plan started in 2017. When PSA had not yet merged with FCA to form Stellantis. Five years later, “the factory has established itself as the most efficient site in Europe for the manufacture of multi-energy SUVs”, underlined Arnaud Deboeuf, industrial director of Stellantis during a visit to the Sochaux site organized for the press Monday, September 5.
Clearly, enough to ensure the production of the successor to the second generation Peugeot 3008, one of the biggest successes of the lion brand in recent years. This model, whose production will be launched in 2024, will be offered in a 100% electric version and will be based on the new “STLA medium” platform.
A European number one position in SUV production which refers to the competition launched by Stellantis between each site:
“We play with an open book to promote the sharing of skills and production methods. It has become the strike force of our manufacturing to have created in a few months a community (of factories) with rankings published every month based on various criteria such as the number of defects observed per vehicle, explains Arnaud Deboeuf. It is a desired interaction between the sites to deploy what works and correct what does not work.”
In sight: productivity gains via “frugal investments”, which must make it possible to absorb the shock of the transition to electricity. Last year, the Mulhouse site, a few dozen kilometers away, also completed a major modernization plan to recover production of the Peugeot 308, the previous generation of which was assembled in Sochaux.
To find itself among the best industrial pupils of Stellantis in Europe, the Sochaux site applied a sort of “industrial downsizing”, according to this English term which is used to designate the reduction in the size of engines, a major trend before the transition electrically programmed.
In recent years, the Sochaux plant has significantly reduced its floor area, reduced to 172 hectares following the sale of 44 hectares to the agglomeration of the country of Montbéliard, but also the size of the buildings.
The assembly, quality control and logistics workshop, which once occupied five different buildings, is now located in one, located in the heart of the industrial site.
“It’s over the era of large factories, Togliatti, it’s over”, jokes Arnaud Deboeuf, in reference to the factory town of the Russian manufacturer Avtovaz, which Renault has just abandoned in the context of the war in Ukraine. .
The key is better operational efficiency: “before the transformation, a part was on average one kilometer to go from the unloading dock to the place of consumption: a distance reduced to 200 meters”, highlights Stellantis.
While the government has called on companies to be energy sober in the face of the risk of shortages this winter, this “site compaction” also makes it possible to reduce consumption linked in particular to heating. Energy consumption would thus have been reduced by 20% compared to last year.
The “Stracker crane”, or optimized logistics
Beyond the reduction in size of the site, it is a brand new building on which Stellantis is strongly betting to optimize its production logistics. With 25 meters in height, the “Transstocker”, its small name, can store more than 4200 pallets of small packages of parts and deliver a pallet every 18 seconds.
Like the large logistics warehouses of an e-commerce giant like Amazon, everything is automated: once placed on a conveyor belt, the pallet is scanned by cameras to be stored on imposing shelves.
The pallet can then be “called” by the production line and transported in record time. Storage is optimized to facilitate access to the parts most likely to be stressed.
On the side of the new production line, which currently assembles the Peugeot 3008 and 5008, an incessant ballet of robots transports the components to the various assembly stations.
In another building, the new stamping workshop has a new line of high-speed presses: steel and aluminum elements are transformed into doors and other body parts in record time. An installation which makes it possible to carry out the whole of the production of Sochaux and even of other sites, whereas it occupied three lines of presses before.
Strengths in an uncertain environment
A modernization which should also enable the factory to better face the crises which have followed one another since 2019 and the start of covid in China. In Sochaux, Stellantis had to stop production several times this year. In question, the lack of components, in particular the famous semiconductors. But the group knew how to organize itself.
“This requires working with our purchases, with our suppliers, with daily monitoring to adapt needs, reallocate cars, choose the cars where there is the most demand from our customers, so a lot of flexibility”, notes Arnaud Deboeuf. .
The results of the first half allow him to display a certain optimism, with a net profit up 34% in the first half for Stellantis.