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moving along in montgomery

Posted on Saturday, October 13, 2012 | Posted in: Worth Checking Out,

Take the HMMA Tour for a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most productive and innovative automotive manufacturers in the world that just happens to be in Montgomery.

They move in perfect sync, their precise movements mesmerizing onlookers as they gracefully turn, twirl and dip. But this dance is not to be found at a performance put on by one of Montgomery’s accomplished ballet companies. Nope. You can catch this show at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) facility during a plant tour.

Since it first started producing vehicles in 2005, over 95,000 people have taken the tour and watched as “dancing” robotic arms, robotic machines (there are 400 robots total in the plant) and Hyundai team members stamp, weld, screw, torque, paint, polish and finally, test thousands of Hyundai Sonatas and Elantras.

Set on 1,744 acres, the 3-million-square-foot, state-of-the-art plant turns out 1,300 cars each day in a process known as “just-in-time” manufacturing that ensures there’s not a minute wasted waiting for the previous task to be finished. It all begins with just a thin, plain sheet of steel that quickly, almost magically becomes a car door, thanks to a giant stamping machine. Next, robotic arms move together in a dizzying waltz to apply the multiple spot welds needed on each door. The process continues through the paint shop, the engine shop and the general assembly line.

While the robots do the heavy lifting, the people on the plant floor do the tasks that require hand-eye coordination. Skilled team members affix the doors, install interior parts on the cars’ bodies, each performing a very specific task at just the right moment to keep everything moving. Hyundai vehicles are renowned for their durability and quality, and the company’s commitment to continuing that quality is evident everywhere at HMMA, from the squeaky clean facilities and the many inspections to the signage encouraging team members to, “Be the world’s best plant.” And when the car is done, it’s still not actually done. Every vehicle is tested on the plant’s 2.3-mile test track, and tested in every conceivable way.

The 1.5-hour tour encompasses all of this and more and highlights the science and art behind the production of 320,000-plus cars each year. Tour guides are friendly, funny and knowledgeable, making the tour a great addition to any Montgomery visit. Scheduled tours are held during the day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and in the evening on Thursdays.

Reservations are required, so visit or call 334-387-8019 for more details and to reserve your spot.

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