Today, we visited and took a tour of the shop floor at the Harley - Davidson assembly plant in York, PA. Our Trike and all other touring bikes are assembled here. They make the frames, fenders and gas tanks here - all other parts are made in other plants and shipped in. The plant is mostly automated with robots doing the heavy lifting - in fact, including making the frame, a bike is assembled in 2-1/2 hours. A few interesting points:
1. The plant is 650,000 sq ft.
2. The Shop operates 24/5.
3. The frame has 16 pieces and is welded together in 4 min through automation.
4. HD does not keep an inventory of bikes, so this is a “make to order” shop. There is an order for each bike from either a dealer or an individual or organization (like a police department) before it is made.
5. There are three bikes made here - the Trike, Touring Bikes and Softails. However, the plant is not set-up to make one style and then switched to make another. It appears (though we did not verify) that production is in the sequence that orders are received. So, as an example, the first bike on the line may be a Trike, the second a Softail, the third a Softail, fourth a Touring Bike, etc.
6. There is very little turn-over in the labor force at the plant. It’s hard to get on, with many jobs requiring several years of experience. The second most coveted job in the plant are the guys that “ride” each bike in a stationary station testing the gear shifts, lights, turn signals, radios, etc. The most coveted job is the audit department. These guys take about 1% of bikes coming off the line, break them down looking for imperfections, put them back together, and then ride them on the street 25-30 miles to ensure top performance.
Since we could not take pictures in the plant, we got only a few pictures in the reception area.