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Take a tour inside Tesla’s first Gigafactory | CNBC Reports

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08:54   |   May 02, 2019

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Take a tour inside Tesla’s first Gigafactory | CNBC Reports
Take a tour inside Tesla’s first Gigafactory | CNBC Reports thumb Take a tour inside Tesla’s first Gigafactory | CNBC Reports thumb Take a tour inside Tesla’s first Gigafactory | CNBC Reports thumb

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  • I’m driving up to the Tesla Gigafactory right now, located outside of Reno, Nevada.
  • It’s huge, you can already see it from what feels like a mile away.
  • It’s that signature Tesla red, that’s outlining the top of the production facility.
  • Let’s go check it out.
  • I’m getting rare access inside Tesla’s Gigafactory.
  • The name originates from the word ‘Giga,’ the unit of measurement representing ‘billion.’
  • And, as it suggests, the building is ginormous.
  • Right now it’s about 5.3 million square feet of operational space.
  • Its current footprint is the equivalent to about 33 American football fields.
  • And it’s not finished yet either.
  • Elon Musk, Tesla’s co-founder and CEO, has referred to the Gigafactory as
  • the “machine that builds the machine,”
  • and it’s all part of his master plan to make electric cars more affordable.
  • It’s planning to do that by mass producing its own batteries.
  • Tesla says it currently produces more batteries in terms of kilowatts per hour
  • than all other carmakers combined, making up about 60% of the world's lithium-ion batteries.
  • As big as the building looks behind me, it only represents about
  • 30% of the entire facility when it’s fully built out.
  • It really does feel like we’re in the wild here, you have wild horses over on my right.
  • Even where I parked my car will eventually be more of the production facility.
  • There’s 7,000 employees working on site here, things are really only just getting started.
  • Once completed, Tesla’s Gigafactory here is expected to be the largest building in the world by footprint.
  • And while Tesla already has factories in California and New York,
  • this is the first one that it’s completely built from scratch.
  • There are also plans to add Gigafactories to Europe and China.
  • At the start of the year, construction began on a third Gigafactory in Shanghai.
  • There’s actually more spots for expectant mothers than just visitors.
  • Tesla’s Model 3, an electric sedan, is the company’s first mass market vehicle.
  • Yet production here at the Gigafactory has encountered delays and some quality issues,
  • which means output has fallen below expectations.
  • Being able to smooth things out here, is seen as imperative for Tesla.
  • Before I enter the production facility, I have to wear these safety glasses and these safety boots as well.
  • This factory produces Model 3 electric motors and battery packs,
  • along with Tesla’s energy storage products, Powerwall and Powerpack.
  • Panasonic is Tesla’s exclusive battery cell supplier for Model 3
  • and its plant is technically part of the Gigafactory.
  • This is where I start my tour.
  • This is the area where Panasonic and Tesla meet.
  • So all day long, these vehicles are delivering battery cells from Panasonic to Tesla,
  • dropping them off and then going back to Panasonic to pick up more.
  • The entire process is completely automated, there’s no human labor in this process.
  • Each Model 3 vehicle requires more than 4,000 battery cells.
  • And after the battery cells are assembled into modules, the modules are then assembled into packs.
  • The handoff between Panasonic and Tesla occurs through these,
  • they’re what’s called Automated Guided Vehicles.
  • It’s the equivalent of a driverless forklift, if that makes sense.
  • Yeah, like an autonomous car, right?
  • It’s like an autonomous car but it’s a forklift.
  • Chris Lister runs operations here.
  • In order to transition the world to sustainable energy, we really needed to build this big,
  • build this boldly and really build as many battery cells as we possibly could to really accelerate this transition.
  • The factory operates 24/7, and Chris tells me he’s seen explosive growth
  • in production output and new product innovation over the past year and a half.
  • Tesla expanded its workforce by 30% in 2018.
  • But it’s also announced company-wide layoffs multiple times as well,
  • as it struggles to rein in costs while expanding in a relatively new industry.
  • But hiccups at the factory have caused significant production delays
  • and even sparked some safety concerns.
  • We’re very committed to safety.
  • You’ll see things like forklifts, and we saw auto guided vehicles.
  • For those who have never been in a factory environment before it’s important to understand
  • how to operate safely, and as we scale up it’s really important to think through with safety in mind.
  • Safety reminders are posted throughout the area.
  • I even noticed this sign as I entered the site.
  • So, who are the people working here?
  • The adjectives I would use to describe the people here: Passionate, scrappy, ambitious,
  • very excited to change the world.
  • But I don’t see as many people as I expected.
  • Well, that’s because automation is everywhere you look.
  • I don’t see a lot of human labor in this part of the factory.
  • This area is actually about 90% automated.
  • Not every part of the factory is that way.
  • But the way we designed the drive unit, as you can see behind us, very modular stations,
  • that we swapped in and out where we’ve got redundancies, we have different technologies
  • that we employ here that make the drive unit final assembly very automatable.
  • Chris tells me the area we’re in is 90% automated.
  • But they’ve had to back off in other areas and add more humans back in.
  • It’s easier to grab things like hoses out of mid air and attach them together
  • as a person looking at those, as opposed to trying to get a robot to do that.
  • He says automation makes sense in portions of the production
  • that are highly repetitive with less variables overall.
  • Not everything has to be automated to make an optimal end-to-end manufacturing solution.
  • I take a break from my tour, because, well, it’s lunchtime.
  • Apparently today there’s a big sale on merchandise for employees, so there is a line out the door
  • of people waiting to buy things like hats, gloves, shirts.
  • I don’t think I’m eligible for an employee discount though.
  • So, it’s lunchtime at the Gigafactory.
  • In addition to the food trucks outside, there’s also this cafeteria here,
  • where you can get things like soups, salads, but I’m going to get a burrito bowl.
  • So, lunch cost me $9.68.
  • Where do I go?
  • This is a lot of soda options, it says the Gigafactory here.
  • There’s a ton of options of Jones Soda, it’s almost like the Giga Jones soda counter.
  • After lunch, I head to the rooftop to see how the factory is building its solar panels.
  • Although, it’s only just started.
  • Tesla says that once completed the Gigafactory will completely run off of renewable energy.
  • Not just solar, but wind too.
  • And once the production is finally finished,
  • this is expected to be the largest rooftop solar array in the world.
  • That means 200,000 tiles on this roof alone.
  • It aims to be a net-zero factory when finished.
  • That means the total amount of energy used by the building will be
  • about equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site.
  • I end the day where all the different pieces of manufacturing come together.
  • You know those rides at the carnival you pay to flip you?
  • Probably some of the same principles designed into those.
  • This is the final area where the drive unit is assembled.
  • What you see behind us is a high-speed crane system, where we’re able to get
  • different variance down to this floor, very very quickly.
  • This elevator system goes up and down three floors and it’s basically an automated warehouse.
  • Once the battery packs and motors are completed they’re brought to this area where they’re
  • then loaded onto these semi-trucks behind me and then transported to Fremont, California,
  • which is about a 4-hour drive from here.
  • And then from there, they’re assembled into vehicles.
  • Every hour, trailers get dispatched to California.
  • Chris tells me that they’re taking the things they’ve learned here to use in the new Shanghai factory.
  • In fact, they’re aiming to make these operations the model for all future Gigafactories.
  • Elon Musk says there could eventually be 10 to 12 Gigafactories around the world.
  • This Gigafactory is an exciting thing to be part of and so many people
  • have invested so much of their lives into making this successful, it’s a very prideful thing.
  • This is a great thing for the city of Reno, this is a great thing for the state of Nevada,
  • this is a great thing for the world.
  • As I end my day taking a spin in the Model 3,
  • I’m reminded of the reason why this entire operation exists in the first place.
  • Elon Musk’s ambitious plan for Tesla and its Gigafactories is beginning to take shape,
  • but with plenty of construction and adjustments still ahead, the road to achieving that vision has just begun.
  • Hey guys, it’s Uptin. Thanks so much for watching!
  • Let me know what you think about Tesla’s business model in the comments below
  • and while you’re at it subscribe to our channel.
  • We’ll see you next time.

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Description

Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada is expected to be the largest building in the world by footprint once completed. CNBC’s Uptin Saiidi gets a rare look inside what Tesla founder Elon Musk calls, ‘the machine that builds the machine.’

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