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The first shipment of vehicle assembly plant equipment for the new BAIC automotive manufacturing facility, currently under construction in the Coega Special Economic Zone, has arrived in Port Elizabeth.

The R11 billion car plant – a joint initiative between China’s Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC), which is the majority shareholder with a 65% stake, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) – is South Africa’s largest motor investment in nearly 50 years.

According to BAIC SA the equipment was shipped from Tianjin, located in the Northern Coastal mainland of China, late in September 2017.

The shipment comprises components for vehicle assembly, welding and painting plant equipment.

The company notes that industry standard equipment, on-line-testing, installation service, logistics and consumable items will be locally procured, accounting for 15% of the total equipment value in terms of the agreement with the engineering procurement construction (EPC) contractor in the construction phase of the BAIC SA plant.

Technical specifications

“Under body, main body and body adjustment line will enable manufacturing of both left and right hand drives with 14.5 jobs per hour (JPH),” comments Gary Yang, BAIC SA Head of Marketing and Planning.

Yang notes that welding automation will reach 60% and body transfer automation will be 100%.

“The assembly line is flexible to handle various body structure vehicle assemblies. Our modular engineering design will accommodate a variety of assembly procedures for different models.

“The painting line is also flexible for various models. Painting automation can reach 34.3% with 100% automatic parts feeding function on SKD and CKD models. Painting robots from ABB are employed for 100% automatic exterior painting.”

Project timelines on track

Commenting on the project completion date for the plant, Yang says they are on track with project timelines with a major milestone being completion and installation of assembly shop roof structure.

The equipment will be installed shortly after the New Year.

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