- Mon, Sep 3, 2007
Early Fall Greetings from Nappanee….
At last… relief from the hottest summer we can recall in a while! The humidity has been well into the miserable range with the heat, so the arrival of my favorite season is very welcome this year. Along with the dip in temps come all the fun fall sports and activities… like Nappanee's own Apple Festival. You can say a lot about the conveniences and comforts of living in a large city, but it's festivals like this one that make small town life great. There's nothing like wandering the craft booths and antique shops uptown with a bag of kettle corn and a cup of hot apple cider. You just can't beat a small town festival on a crisp fall evening. If you're near Nappanee September 13 - 16, stop in and, as we say here in Nappanee, "Embrace the Pace"!
Speaking of here in Nappanee… by show of hands, how many of you have been to the Newmar factory? We love having owners stop in for the factory tour. If you've never seen an RV come to life, it's quite the show. From concept and design to rolling home, constructing an RV is no small ask. Let's take a few minutes this month and see just what is involved in bringing a Newmar RV to the dealership for you to see and buy.
The journey begins in the minds and hearts of the good people in Sales, Engineering, and our Executive Committee. Concepts for products are formed using ideas contributed by everyone from owners to engineers. Once a product is viable, the Engineering staff sets to work drawing every inch of the new unit; the framework, the cabinets, the plumbing and electrical schematics… you get the idea. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into an RV before the first weld is formed or screw is turned. Mock ups and test pieces are built, and slowly but surely the coach comes to life.
As the product is refined and grows, the Interiors Department adds their input. Colors have to be chosen, along with furniture, fabrics, carpets, and decors. Everything right down to the hinges and pull handles on the cabinet doors is selected to enhance the lifestyle experience. Imagine having to decorate 150 different homes a year… every year. In a lot of ways, that's what our interior design staff does.
Once the concept is up and running, Engineering begins working with Production to build the first unit. The platform and project engineers work together with Production to establish the best manner in which to assemble it, and before you know it there is a chassis assigned to the project and it is in production getting prepped for its floors, electrical, and plumbing to be installed.
Like any good home, we start with a solid foundation. Steel and aluminum combine to offer a base that is at once rigid and light. Storage compartments are formed, wiring and plumbing are routed, dash assemblies are mounted, and the floor is installed. The all new Plant 23 facility is where the whole process takes place, the this "basement" structure is then undercoated and makes its way to Plant 7, Newmars final assembly point.
While the main assembly process takes place in plant 7, it's important to know that there are a large number of sub-assemblies that are built in different buildings on the Newmar campus. Sidewalls are built in Plant 1; countertops and cabinets are built in plants 2, 3, and 4. Then there's the lamination process for ceiling panels and other items… there's a shop for ceramic tiles, and don't forget the Sewing room where interior soft trim, window treatments, and more are produced specifically for each unit built. All of these components and sub-assemblies are taken to Plant 7 where they are installed in a meticulous step by step assembly procedure that starts with the chassis with rolling in the northeast side of plant 7.
From this point we: (don't blink or you'll miss something) install the above floor plumbing, install basement accessories, set the cabinetry, install the sidewall and roof structures, run the "house" wirings, set more cabinets, install interior doors, test the plumbing and electrical systems, install interior lights & appliances, glue the sidewall fiberglass on, install the front and rear caps, install the exterior lights, install exterior trim, install windows and exterior doors, lay tape graphics (where applicable), install roof cover (either fiberglass or Dicor), install roof mounted accessories, install slide out seals, install slide outs (oh yeah, build the slide-outs off line to install), adjust slide outs, install furniture, more appliances and electronics, add exterior trim, install exterior accessories (awnings and such), inspect everything and inspect it again, then road test it to make sure it is tight and solid, and road ready.
From Plant 7 the units will travel to plant 13 & 14 for preparation for exterior paint. The exterior main body color is applied, and the unit is moved to plant 18 where the graphics packages take shape. Paper and tape "masks" are applied to the units, and they make their way into the first set of paint booths for the accent color applications. After the main and accent colors have been applied to the coach, it moves to another set of booths for the clearcoat application that really brings the colors to life, and adds depth, shine, and protection to the final finish. The paint is baked to a high gloss finish then allowed to cure in a temperature controlled facility to insure quality results. The guys in the paint shop are very much artists, with years (sometimes generations) of experience and a humble pride in their work. We're not done yet; time for more inspections.
The finished units are weighed and aligned (as applicable), and tested for water tightness in Newmars rain bays. Once the Production inspectors release the unit, it goes to… you guessed it… another inspection. Final inspection occurs out of the hustle and bustle of the production process. The units are taken to a special facility on the Newmar campus where the final inspection is performed by the "DQI" (Dealer Quality Inspection) team one unit at a time. During their inspection, virtually every door and window is opened and closed, every switch is flipped, every cabinet inspected, and every component, accessory, and system is operated. Any defects found are repaired by their respective crews and the unit is finally ready to ship. Sales review the order and release the unit to our Dispatch office, where a professional transport company arranges delivery to the appropriate dealer. The unit is picked up by the transport company, and driven to the dealership where… yes again… it is inspected. Actually, at the dealership level, it gets two inspections; there is an initial inspection when it arrives to insure it is in good condition physically, and is as was ordered, then when it is retail sold it goes through a "PDI" (Pre-Delivery Inspection) process where again, virtually every knob, switch, and accessory is operated.
It is honestly very hard to condense every step involved in the actual design and construction process that occurs with each and every unit we build. Hopefully this gives you at least a glimpse of what goes on. If you want to get a real feel for it, though, come to Nappanee for a Factory Tour. We run them twice a day during the production week, and are very proud to show our facilities, units, and people to our friends in the RV community. We also have a new display area adjacent to our Tour Facility where you can look over what's new from Newmar. There is great picture of it on the ad between pages 50 & 51 in your August 2007 Kountry Klub Magazine.
So come on over to Nappanee. The welcome mat is always out, and if your timing is right, we might even have a little festival going on in town while you visit… or stop out on a Friday night and join the locals as we cheer on our NorthWood Panthers to another victory on the football field. While you're here, we'd love to build a new RV for you!
See you next month!