Building across Cultures


India is seen as one of the key growth markets of the future. Sales of passenger cars there are expected to increase from the current level of 1.2 million to over two million vehicles by 2014. The Volkswagen Group is firmly establishing itself in India, having opened a new, state-of-the-art production facility in Chakan, near Pune, in spring 2009. With this new construction project, the Plant Structure Planning department ensured that everything went according to plan when building the 60th plant in Volkswagen’s production network.

India is seen as one of the key growth markets of the future. The Volkswagen Group is firmly establishing itself in India, having opened a new, state-of-the-art production facility in Chakan, near Pune, in spring 2009. (photo)

Saturday is soccer day. In the Rakshak Society, a residential area on the outskirts of the million-strong city of Pune, a colorful assortment of Germans and Indians are assembled on the playing field. Some are clad in white jerseys with the Volkswagen logo, while others wear the gleaming green of VfL Wolfsburg, Volkswagen’s Premier League soccer team back home. In the thick of the action is Dr. Olaf Dettmann, a draftsman with a doctorate in engineering who works for the Plant Structure Planning department. It was he and his colleagues who brought the jerseys for the children. Together, they play as the “Rakshak Society Kickers.” Only the sons of the emerging Indian middle class wear sports shoes; the children of the ordinary domestics play barefoot. However, this does nothing to dampen their enthusiasm and team spirit, as is immediately evident from the joyous cheering and swearing. “It’s a great way to pick up Indian swearwords,” Dettmann says with a grin.

PRODUCTION UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF SHIVA

Effective teamwork – Engineer Dr. Olaf Dettmann was involved in setting up the new plant in Pune, India, from day one. (photo)
EFFECTIVE TEAMWORK
Engineer Dr. Olaf Dettmann
was involved in setting up the
new plant in Pune, India, from
day one.

The construction expert knows a thing or two about team spirit, both on and off the playing field. Building a complete automotive plant in a new country calls for team work and a willingness to address cultural differences. When Olaf Dettmann first arrived at the new location in Chakan, some 25 kilometers from Pune, he found a vast expanse of sand and gravel shimmering in the beating sun, with just one solitary container at the edge of the site. A Shiva temple took pride of place on a nearby hill. Today, the automotive facility is arguably the most modern in India, and over 2,000 employees are already producing Volkswagen Polo and Škoda Fabia models to Group-wide Volkswagen quality standards. The production lines here can turn out up to 110,000 vehicles every year as the divine Shiva looks down benevolently from above.

Dr. Jan Spies, Head of the Plant Structure Planning department in Wolfsburg, manages a team of some 70 employees who are used to traveling to different corners of the world. A new production facility was built in the Russian city of Kaluga almost in parallel to the Pune project. And another Volkswagen plant is currently taking shape in Chattanooga in the US State of Tennessee. In order to meet these challenges far away from their headquarters in Germany, the department has a stable of proven experts that it can call upon for different services – also concerning the construction of factories in geographic areas with special climatic conditions. Such experts include, for instance, electrical engineers specializing in the finer points of automotive production. Reliable ventilation and air conditioning are essential, as is the supply of compressed air and hot and cold water. Architects, construction engineers, mechanical engineers and business administrators work closely together, both at the Wolfsburg base and on locations abroad.

“We have been the main point of contact for everyone involved in a project for decades now – a very important function. As Volkswagen has become more and more international, our activities have followed suit,” says Spies. “Today, we are benefiting from the know-how that we have accumulated from all these projects.” While some competitors opt to buy turnkey solutions for their production facilities, planning and construction are key competences in the Volkswagen Group: “Our attention to detail helps us to avoid any unpleasant surprises and to meet our international quality standards,” continues Spies. “That is why we visit the proposed location for a new plant at a very early stage in the project.”

“Our attention to detail helps us to avoid any unpleasant surprises and to meet our international quality standards.” Dr. Jan Spies, Head of the Plant Structure Planning department Volkswagen (quotation)
USA – Wolfsburg – Russia – Pune (graphics)
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