I will be calling Herr Hoenniger who arranges tours of the Porsche factory[ (49) (0)711 911 25384] to attempt to time my tour with the progress of the car’s production, so that I may see it at some time during or immediately after its construction. I do not have his e-mail address, and I would imagine the request to actually see the car on the production line, is a bit out of the ordinary. I do have the names of 5 people in the customer center in Zuffenhausen who usually help Porsche customers to individualize their cars, at considerable additional cost, I must add. I am trying to enlist their help to get Herr Hoenniger's e-mail so that I might plead my case.
In essence, I'm reviewing my history with Porsche, in depth, leaving out very little, hence risking boring them to death and impeding their more useful and revenue-producing activities. What better place than LiveJournal to convey this information to the very few who might be interested, and under a link.
I will be 75 years old in February and I am a nephrologist working in Orange County, California, where on some days, I drive my modified 1996 993 Turbo more than 100 miles, visiting 15 hemodialysis clinics and 2 hospitals. My business car has 180,000 miles on the odometer, and was modified by Dieter Inzenhoffer of Andial Motors, Santa Ana, to deliver 571 HP and 519 foot/lbs. I bought it new, and only last year, with the Turbo S, has Porsche finally produced a better car. As I can only justify the expense for the car while I am working, and I have kept my 993 for 15 years, it is likely that, if my health maintains, I will be 90 years old when the 2011 requires replacement. I am targeting my medical retirement for age 80 (2016.) Hence, this is my last Porsche, and thus I have rationalized a trip to the factory to do what I tried to do in 1969, when I purchased my second Porsche.
In 1969, I purchased a 911S, and in those years, one could customize the gear box and the ring and pinion gears, and receive a tax benefit by picking up the car at the factory. I believe the car cost me about $11,000. When I arrived at the factory, the car had not been completed, but the papers were ready! I signed the papers, and asked for a tour of the factory. “Sorry, that is not possible.” It seems that work was well advanced on the forthcoming 914-6, and secrecy had precedence. Instead, on the recommendation of my well-traveled Swedish friend and tennis opponent, Lennart Anderson, I toured the Drei-Farben-Haus , which remains my sole memory of Stuttgart. Not exactly what the Chamber of Commerce would prescribe.
Despite my disappointment, I went on to buy a 1972 911S, which, because of it’s smog mandated transmission was less fun than the 1969. In 1976, Porsche came out with its first Turbo, and it got rave reviews. I rushed down to my Porsche dealer, and placed my order, but it was 1977 before I took possession of my first midnight blue 930 Porsche Turbo, with Black Watch woolen inserts in the seats, a factory option. I loved its looks, and I drove the car for 80,000, often insufferable, miles, surviving its turbo lag and off throttle oversteer, and replacing its turbos, regularly, just after the warranty expired. I drove my 1969 more often, and combed the enthusiast literature for Porsche’s next great idea. It wasn’t the 928, or the Boxter. It wasn’t the Cayenne. It was the Cayman, but only Ruf was willing to explore its potential, and before I took that leap, I read in Excellence, about Dieter’s twin plug modification to the really nice 993 Turbo that I had purchased in 1995. I bought a 2002 Turbo, new, and found that it was only a marginal improvement over the 1996, so I spent $45,000 to improve my ‘96, and I’ve loved it. What Porsche didn’t do, Dieter did! Of course, he learned it all as an apprentice at Porsche, before coming to the U.S.
And then I read about the 2011 Turbo S. And then I drove one. I placed orders at 2 Porsche dealers with 2 down payments after calling around the U.S., to find out how I could get one as soon as possible. Circle Porsche, the folks who let me drive car, won the order. The first production date was set as November 22nd. Didn’t happen. Now we have January 12th, and an order number, -------.
Now, I’ve spent my life in medicine, but I have an appreciation of craftsmanship and efficiency. That’s where the Japanese manufacturers, and now, Porsche, have polished the Just in Time The Manufacturing Scheme and a very cogent history of Porsche was written by Derek Tam-Scott under the title, "To the Edge and Back: Lean Production and Porsche" Thus, it appears that the man hours to produce the car have been reduced markedly:
“Wiedeking had much previous manufacturing experience and had devised a “turnaround” strategy within three months of his appointment as CEO that incorporated at its center the ideas of lean production. At his previous work at Glycol Metallwerke (where he was charged with turning the company back into a profitable entity, which he did), a German automotive parts supplier, he learned about Japanese production techniques, and went to Japan to study these firsthand. Following this trip, he reported that “the gap between the Japanese and German auto business was in three areas: production, production, and production. [The Porsche] engineers were doing an excellent job. Production efficiency was the gap…to close.” This confirms that on an organizational and philosophical level, lean production was actually quite compatible with Porsche. So, Wiedeking took twenty managers from Porsche to Japan, and eventually hired consulting company Shingijutsu, which was founded by Yoshiki Iwata, champion of Toyota’s lean production system, called Toyota Production System.
Though the arrival of the Japanese consultants was far from smooth, it brought enormous benefits that eventually contributed to the turnaround and subsequent success of Porsche. Using the proven kaizen technique, the number of hours necessary to build a car was reduced from 120 to 72, the number of errors per car was reduced by 50%, and the workforce was simultaneously decreased by 19%. In what was retrospectively named the circular saw massacre, the eight foot tall shelves containing 28 days of parts inventory was quite literally hacked to pieces. These shelves had previously required workers to climb ladders and then dig through parts bins, and were replaced with carts, each of which was stocked with only the necessary components for building one car, that traveled along the line with the worker so that it was no longer necessary to interrupt tasks to find parts. The space required to build the cars was also reduced by 30% as a result. ”
I don’t know when key components of my car will be assembled, but I would love to see that point where identifiable parts of the car are attached. If that is not possible, I’d love to be in a position to see my car driven out the factory door to the assembly point where it awaits transportation. As the barcode identifies it, its location and destination are known to the production planners.
I'll be starting this process by sending the e-mail to the customer center, and then within a day or two, I'll call Herr Hoenniger. I have instructions from the airport in Stuttgart, and I've searched fares out of LAX. Wish me luck!