Kyle’s Intern Experience: Working in an Automotive Plant

Since I last posted, I have learned a lot about working in an automotive plant. One of the key things about construction work in a car plant is coordination. Last summer, Alberici was the only contractor on the project site that I was on, and they organized all work on site. This summer, however, many different contractors with many different contracts with Fiat-Chrysler are working on one site. Every morning, there are coordination meetings to make sure there are no conflicts with everyone’s work. Dozens of people attend these hour-long meetings, and there is a lot of discussion as to how to resolve the issues on site in that hour alone.  The amount of coordination that needs to occur for a project of this size to run is astounding, but with strong communication, completing the project is possible.

After two weeks on the General Assembly side of the Fiat-Chrysler Sterling Heights Plant, I moved to the south side of the plant to help with the construction of the Paint Shop. Despite just moving to another side of a building, a whole new project with a whole new set of challenges, organization, and people is underway! To start, I assisted one of the superintendents in overseeing miscellaneous projects on site, including cutting holes to allow for ductwork. There is a strict deadline for this project, as the holes need to be cut to allow a helicopter to fly over the building and place ductwork in the holes.

Now that I’ve settled in, my main project the past couple of weeks is to be the administrator of a log of items that have been developed to aid in finishing the project on time. A strict deadline to produce vehicles is in place that needs to be met, and this log of items has been developed to gather all issues that haven’t been resolved and find a way to resolve them. These items come from issues all over this section of the project, so as I record these issues, I learn a lot about what is needed to build a car paint shop. I have also learned a lot about the process of getting these items ready to be built. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that needs to occur for a subcontractor to be given specific work, which includes the general contractor asking subcontractors for a price for an item, reviewing the prices, and then selecting the best subcontractor and issuing them a document called a purchase order that provides them the money to do the work. Sometimes the work needs to be changed and reviewed, and so some of those steps may repeat. With the size of the project and the amount of work, this process is repeated many times. Coordination is also key with this project, as there is coordination that needs to occur between Fiat-Chrysler, the project management staff, the engineers, and every subcontractor to identify interferences and unresolved issues and ways to resolve them. As the administrator of this log, I review these issues and communicate the issues in the best way possible to the people who work on these issues. It’s a big task, as a report centered around this log is sent to the senior management of Fiat-Chrysler every week. It requires a lot of detail and time, but it has been teaching me a lot and it’s great to know that Alberici is willing to give important work like this to me.

I only have 5 weeks left. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me!