Nikola Tesla dreamed of a ‘connected world’ in 1926 that Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, Ian Wright, JB Straubel, and Elon Musk made a reality in 2003 with the creation of Tesla Motors. With the vision of producing an entirely electric car, Tesla disrupted the automotive industry with their innovative thinking. After shifts in leadership, the departure of founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, and mounting financial troubles in 2009, the company went public in 2010 under the leadership of Elon Musk.
As the popularity of Tesla grew, the organization announced the building of a ‘super factory’ in 2014. In what Musk refers to as a Gigafactory, the Sparks, Nevada facility was built to produce batteries that store gigawatt-hours of capacity. The first Gigafactory is on track to becoming the world’s largest building by footprint.
In transiting sustainable practices and automation from its automobiles, Tesla took the same vision and implemented it into the Gigafactory, where they build the vehicles by automating many processes within the facility. Although automotive manufacturers have used industrial automation for years, the level to which Tesla automated its Gigafactory is unprecedented. As Tesla increased automation at its other facilities to address its growing mass consumer market demand, Tesla experienced a minor setback in 2017 when its Freemont, California location shut down twice in two months.
With the efficiencies Tesla experienced through automation, the organization has reduced the price of its automobiles, further increasing the demand for its electric vehicles on a global scale. Tesla has opened another Gigafactory in Shanghai, China, a Solar City Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, and announced the construction of a European Gigafactory in Grünheide, Germany. Tesla now has an opportunity to reflect on the lesson-learned from Sparks, Nevada and Freemont, California, when developing an automation strategy for these locations.
As the Technology and Innovation Specialist for Tesla, you are working on a follow-up project for the new European Gigafactory. Your Chief Technology Officer (CIO) has asked you to review the Freemont shutdowns and create a risk mitigation action plan for the new European factory. Your action plan is part of a larger risk mitigation plan and will be used to strategize future planning.
Conduct research and the scenario above to create a risk mitigation action plan for the new plant. Make sure to address the following:
- Include an introduction to the IoT, application, and ecosystem for Tesla.
- Discuss the shutdown of the Freemont, California plant. What role did IoT (automation or mass-automating) have on manufacturing?
- What strategies could be implemented for the Grünheide, Germany Gigafactory?
- Identify ethical or legal risks. How would Tesla create a risk mitigation strategy to counter these ethical and legal risks?
- Provide attribution for credible sources needed in completing your plan.