Like any new model, the Peugeot 408 goes through a mini-assembly line, located in Sochaux, before production begins in the Mulhouse factory. We were able to attend this dress rehearsal, during which there is still time to correct the final flaws.
The argus invites you behind the scenes of the industrialization of the P54 project. Mid-March 2022, we had the opportunity to go to Sochaux, in the pilot workshop which assembles the Peugeot 408 VRS, acronym meaning Series Representative Vehicles.
TO READ. Peugeot 408 (2023). On board the sedan of a new kind
Final dress rehearsal in Sochaux
This mini-assembly line, which covers an area of 2,200 m2was set up over a period of five months, from October 2021 to March 2022. Teams of 40 employees took turns to assemble each vehicle in optimal conditions.
“On the Sochaux pilot site, the assembly of a 408 is completed in 3 days. In Mulhouse, when production starts, it will only take 7 hours. “
Here, the assembly of a Peugeot 408 is carried out in three days, whereas once production has started, on the Mulhouse site, where 750 operators are mobilized, the manufacture of a 408 will have to be carried out in seven hours. The vocation of this ephemeral workshop is therefore to serve as a general rehearsal so that everything can then proceed without major problems. During the period of activity of the pilot site, 200 pre-production Peugeot 408s were manufactured.
Regular disassembly and reassembly
The manufacturing process begins with the arrival, in Sochaux, of the Peugeot 408 bodies in white, from the bodywork in Mulhouse. The hulls have undergone cataphoresis (an essential operation to prevent corrosion), received the cords for sealing and then sound insulation before being fully painted. The first step is to dismantle the doors, bonnet and tailgate to make it easier for workers to assemble all the internal pieces of this huge puzzle. Each repeats the gestures that he will subsequently have to perform at a faster rate in Mulhouse.
This pilot site has only eight pitches, or eight manufacturing steps. In the factory that will assemble the production Peugeot 408s, there are 200. Of course, all the experience previously acquired on the third-generation Peugeot 308 Saloon and 308 SW station wagon – which have also been there and with which the 408 shares technical elements – is put to good use. Attention is therefore particularly focused on the new parts, such as the rear doors, the elements covering the quarter panels and the tailgate as a whole. The SUV-style fittings are also closely scrutinized. We’ll talk about that below.
READ ALSO. How is the Peugeot 208 Mk3 made?
A case of pellets
Moreover, on the vehicles present during our report, the grain of the parts is not yet final. For example, the added wheel arches are smooth, i.e. easily scratched. We thus observe, on the 408 that we cross, yellow or purple adhesive pads. This makes it possible to measure the Appearance Quality Index (or AQI). The latter is subdivided into five categories: safety, failure, and three types of defects classified A, B and C. A signals an intolerable defect, B corresponds to great customer dissatisfaction and C designates a defect that catches the eye. To understand this correctly, ten type C faults are equivalent to two type B faults.
“To materialize what needs to be corrected, yellow dots are glued to the places concerned. They should not be confused with the purple dots on which appear numbers, indicating the iteration of the part.“
In the present case before our eyes, the number 4 specifies that this part is in its fourth version and that it will be modified as long as compliance with the defined specifications is not achieved. There is no limit. There is also a functional quality index (IQF), which is applied to check all the functions of the vehicle.
Under rectilinear neon ramps, an ideal configuration for revealing the slightest bodywork defect, a battalion of specialists is on the job, scrutinizing the smallest square millimeter of sheet metal or plastic, the adjustments between bodywork parts, as well as the alignment perfect openings. Each operator has a set of shims always in hand allowing him to check the regularity of the clearances between the parts. Twenty vehicles are thus scrutinized each day.
Production for internal use
The purpose of this mini-assembly line is not to deliver vehicles to customers but to finalize the technical development of cars. Each copy is then inspected by the various professions (sealing, braking, driving, performance, handling, approval, etc.). These engineers and technicians finalize the vehicle so that it is ready for the planned date of marketing.
The production tool closed its doors a few days after our visit. The pilot site then handed over on March 22, 2022 to the Mulhouse plant, where the first production Peugeot 408s began manufacturing.. The model is then said to be “on line”. His career can begin.