Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

A little too much, a little too soon?

Some people don’t like Elon Musk. He overpromises. He doesn’t like unions (I like unions) and once offered up free frozen yogurt to stamp out an organizing drive. Yeah, that'll pay the bills! 

But, I dunno, I appreciate Elon Musk's vision. He shot a Tesla into space a few months ago; that was pretty cool. If I had Scrooge McDuck money like Elon Musk, I like to think I'd be doing something similar (minus the union-busting).

What I’m trying to say is, the dude makes mistakes. We all do! I locked my keys in my car last night. Anyway, with that in mind, here’s what Elon Musk said about automating his electric car factory in 2016:

"By version 3 (of the factory), it won't look like anything else. You can't have people in the production line itself, otherwise you drop to people speed. So there will be no people in production process itself. People will maintain the machines, upgrade them, and deal with anomalies."

Oh no, not people speed. So Tesla was gonna go full robot, eh?

That hasn’t gone well. The company's production goals fell short again in the first quarter of this year, and Musk, who has apparently come around, said it was because of … too much ... automation:

The Model 3 assembly line is widely regarded as one of the most robotics-driven on the planet – which is part of the problem.

"In some cases, the robots actually slowed the production. Right?" (CBS This Morning host Gayle King) asked.  

"Yes, they did….We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts….And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing," Musk said.

Dang.

 Maybe robots and human beings can work together after all. They aren't gonna make our jobs obsolete -- but offshoring all of our production capabilities might.

Elon! It appears you see the value in domestic production. Watch this video: