By Chuck Woodbury
If you have ever visited an RV manufacturing plant, you have seen an assembly line in action. But it’s a far cry from a truly automated process. On each stop of the assembly line, workers with power drills and staple guns piece together one part or section of an RV. In reality, the assembly line is merely the RV chassis being moved forward so different people can perform their individual tasks to build the “home” on top.
Considering that so many people — including those with minimal skills — touch each RV in the production process, it’s no wonder that the level of quality of the RVs they turn out is all over the place. Most of the large factories in Elkhart, Indiana, where 80 percent of all RVs are made, no longer even drug test their employees due to a severe shortage of labor. As one worker said (or is presumed to have said), “If you can fog a mirror you can get a job.”
Now, contrast that process with the fascinating scene below in a German Mercedes Benz factory, where robots perform all but the final detail work. After watching this video, watch the one below it that shows how a Jayco travel trailer is made. Keep your eyes open for any robots (hint: there are none).
The downside, of course, to the German process is a lot of workers are replaced with robots. Still, that’s the future of much of American factory production.
And now, a 12-minute video showing how a Jayco travel trailer is made. . .