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


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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