Case Study

The main activities in the body shop and in the final assembly and the trim line had to be done in sections in production-free hours so as not to interrupt production of the new car models.
Using the project lifecycle management solution of RIB, staff on all levels are able to access a central system.

Cars have been manufactured in the Bochum factory of Adam Opel GmbH ever since 1962. A total of 9,700 employees have worked on the production of the Opel Astra and Opel Zafira. However, it is not only finished cars that come off the production line in the centre situated in the middle of the Ruhr region. The Opel company, headquartered in Rüsselsheim, also makes axles, engines and gearboxes at the Bochum site. In addition, dealers all around the globe are supplied with car parts from Bochum. The new factory has been designed to produce ecologically modern cars with sustainable production methods. For example, the world’s first paint shop applying water-soluble paint was put into operation in 1987 in Bochum.  The factory on the river Ruhr also produces Opel models fuelled by natural gas.

265,000 vehicles a year

In two large-scale projects costing around 13 million Euro, the company’s construction department redesigned existing production facilities for the new models of the Opel Astra Caravan and the Opel Zafira. “The existing body shop, final assembly and trim line had to be adapted for the future car models,” reports Stefan Engemann from the construction department. The projects also required new facilities to be built to allow a total of 265,000 vehicles to be produced in three shift operation every year starting in 2005. Extensive structural alterations, which also affected the supply lines and the infrastructure of the building, posed additional challenges for Opel’s construction department.

The quantities alone give an idea of the tremendous scope of the project: Altogether, 200 tons of steel, 700 cubic metres of concrete and 35 tons of reinforcement steel were used. A particularly demanding task was the assembly of the new robots on the first floor of the body shop, as the existing ceilings were not strong enough to bear the concentrated static and dynamic loads from the robotic operation. The construction workers therefore installed 1,100 square metres of load distribution plates of structural steel for the new robots.  As well as this, 20 kilometres of electric cables, 13 kilometres of media lines and five kilometers of ventilation and suction pipes had to be laid.

A race against the clock

“All in all, the most difficult task for our teams was to keep to schedule,” remembers project designer Engemann. “We began with the tender action in the construction department in October 2002. The commissioning phase started in February 2003  – in May of the same year all the firms involved in the construction work had been decided.“ The firms doing the construction work were also pushed for time, as the main activities in the body shop and in final assembly and the trim line had to be done in sections in production-free hours so as not to interrupt production of the new car models. The commissioned firms completed the project in only six weeks – in December/January 2003 and summer 2004. The involved members of staff in Opel’s construction department even did without their Christmas holidays to enable production to start on time in 2005. 

Teamwork in all phases

The project teams at Opel are extremely well organised for mastering the challenges of such major projects, including the tight timeframe and budget. The international construction department is set up as follows: 
Project ideas, feasibility planning, cost estimates and schedules take place in Project Planning. Engineering Services is responsible for the tender action and the commissioning of the design companies and the construction companies as well as for obtaining the necessary expert opinions.  Finally, Manufacturing Construction Management is in charge of supervising the entire course of the project, ensuring that deadlines, budgets and quality standards are met. Invoice checking and claim management are also done in this division.  “To enable all the teams involved in the project to cooperate efficiently, we rely on a software solution that combines all the project data,” explains Engemann. “This is the only way to deal with all the parts of the project lifecycle effectively and without delay.”

Since 1997 the construction department of Adam Opel GmbH has been working with RIB Construction Suite software.  Before this, even large-scale projects were handled with spreadsheet systems. This was not only extremely time-consuming but also entailed project risks, as each member of staff – whether a manager, project leader or project team member – within different departments worked with his own spreadsheet. “The project lifecycle management solution of RIB gives staff at all levels the possibility of accessing a central system,” the project designer reports.  “That is around 12-15 people per project who have constant access to items and text information.”

Production start according to plan

The motivated Opel teams completed the extensive project control phase on schedule, enabling production to begin in 2005. “The transparent RIB software radically simplified the design process and contributed to a successful project closing,” sums up project designer Stefan Engemann.


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