EXTENSIVE EMPLOYEE TRAINING
In addition to the built-in controls and quality loops in the automated, state-of-the-art production facility, employee training plays a key role in Kaluga, as it does at all of the Group’s 63 locations. That’s why the Volkswagen Group not only supplied the Russian plant with buildings and machines, but also with the training expertise that it has built up all over the world. For plant manager Josef Baumert, it all comes down to “training, training and more training – none of our employees is allowed anywhere near a workstation without having completed intensive training.” The bar is set high, each applicant being required to complete a six-month trial and training period before being hired. Cooperating with the state-owned “Vocational Lyceum No. 18”, Volkswagen also runs a training center in Kaluga for up-and-coming employees.
The high standards that Volkswagen demands when training its own employees apply in equal measure to suppliers. In-depth audits are carried out not just to evaluate the quality of the suppliers’ products, but also to ensure that they can guarantee the same quality time after time. “For instance, even the most advanced machine is not much use if there is no plan for maintaining it,” explains Baumert. So far, 31 companies in Russia have passed the demanding Volkswagen supplier audit, including five wholly Russian-owned operations. The remainder are joint ventures between Russian and Western partners or subsidiaries of international manufacturers.
THE HUMAN FACTOR – In addition to state-of-the-art monitoring and quality assurance systems in production (below), employee training plays a key role. Volkswagen contributed the training expertise that it has built up all over the world to the Russian plant.
In a conference room in Kaluga, the hour of truth begins every morning at 9.30, when technicians and production specialists use video links to discuss quality issues and any problems that affect the Russian market in particular. Every now and then, colleagues from Quality Assurance fly in from Wolfsburg. They choose a vehicle at random from the “national distribution center” – which is located next to the plant and can hold up to 10,000 cars – and put it through its paces. Vladislav Cheburkov has long since internalized Volkswagen’s quality culture. And he firmly believes that its significance for the city of Kaluga goes well beyond the cars it produces: “These days, we not only have new roads and great cars, but also a whole new way of thinking. Many people here have already understood that, in the ‘Volkswagen era’, progress means that anyone can make it if they put in the effort.”