Buttoned-up engineering, unbuttoned.
BRZ Limited shown
Every Outback and Legacy must pass driving tests at the Subaru of Indiana Automotive test-track facility.
that runs from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico are numerous automobile and truck manufacturing
plants as well as steel manufacturing plants and parts suppliers. Indiana forms
a historically significant part of that corridor, where approximately 200 automakers
– including Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Muntz, Studebaker, DeSoto, Packard and
Stutz – made their homes. So have generations of folks who built these vehicles.
For the people of Indiana, this very strong tradition continues.
You can see the Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) facilities from I-65 south of Lafayette, Indiana. The structures are huge, but what takes place inside is meticulously detail-oriented and measured in microns. This is where Legacy, Outback and Baja are manufactured and assembled – where the components, body parts and electronics come together to create quality, premium Subaru vehicles.
The best engineering and design in the world will not guarantee a premium automobile. However, when combined with people striving for quality in a world-class production facility and quality-control checks built into the manufacturing process, the product becomes more than its individual parts. That is the case at SIA.
As an overview, SIA production associates control a production flow that starts with coils of steel and ends with vehicle shipment. The flow includes:
Subaru emphasizes quality throughout. This includes the grade of steel, the stringent maintenance of the stamping dies, the use of robotics to ensure body-assembly consistency and the regulations for entering the paint area and working around painted surfaces. Quality is the responsibility of each trim assembly station. Quality checks are made from SIA’s point of view throughout the process and evaluations are made from the customer’s point of view at the end of assembly and trim. Engines are test-run before installation, and every vehicle is road-tested more than two miles before it’s loaded for delivery. In the end, the vehicle received by the dealer is touched by hundreds of hands, each of which makes a difference.
SIA associates use a number of methods and measuring devices to ensure that steel is cut to the correct thickness and that proper gaps are maintained during vehicle assembly. While proper build and assembly are everyone’s responsibilities, quality-control checks are made throughout production.
One area is In-Process Control – IPC. IPC performs checks on three bodies-in-white per week picked randomly from the production line. A body-in-white is one that has been assembled but not yet painted. The bodies are taken into a room marked “Dimensional Coordinate Measuring Machine Layout,” placed on a stand and measured by gauges at close to 300 points.
In addition, all bodies are checked by hand in search of any surface deviations. If something out of the ordinary is found, the entire assembly line is rechecked and adjustments made.
Every Subaru vehicle must pass evaluation by a line of quality-control associates at the end of assembly. They inspect the vehicle visually for quality, and they make sure all of the features listed for that model are installed. Each vehicle also must pass a water test, where it’s deluged by 12,000 gallons of water.
After that, one out of every 100 vehicles is evaluated in SIA’s Vehicle Evaluation System (VES) area. VES personnel perform dynamic and static tests from the customer’s point of view – what the customer would look at and experience. They examine each of these vehicles in detail and drive them to ensure a quality build.
These tests are different from the specifications evaluations that take place in IPC. VES looks at areas that show up as warranty claims or on third-party surveys by companies like J.D. Power. The SIA associates who work in the VES area must be certified by Subaru every year, and they visit dealers on a regular basis to stay in touch with what’s happening in the field. They also have been called in as experts to help solve quality issues at dealerships.
SIA associates also submit the new Legacy and Outback vehicles to two predelivery inspections as a double-check for quality. Then quality-control personnel from Subaru of America inspect the vehicles from the customer’s point of view in the Customer Acceptance Room. All of this ensures that the vehicles pass technical as well as aesthetic requirements. The final quality-control check is the dealership’s predelivery inspection.
Having been checked and rechecked from bumper to bumper, 2005 Legacy and Outback models roll into the staging areas, where they await shipment. These new premium vehicles have been quality tested and approved by some of the most demanding critics possible – the associates at SIA.
Launch: Launching the 2005 Legacy and Outback