"" Writer's Wanderings: Parma's GM Metal Center Open House

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Parma's GM Metal Center Open House

Yesterday we took advantage of the General Motors plant open house to see how some car parts are made. I thought it was called a stamping plant but aparently the new term is Metal Center. The Parma plant makes small parts for a number of the GM cars on the market.

We arrived at a large tent that displayed a couple of new Chevrolets as well as some cars from the past. Bob was excited to see a Corvair althought it was still not as old as the one we originally owned. Even though it was a Monday morning, there was still quite a crowd of visitors lining up for the first tours.

Everything was extremely well organized and we were funneled through an entry area that led to a walkway over the street and into the manufacturing area. Several display tables were filled with information about various UAW and community groups. After watching a short film about safety for visitors and receiving our safety glasses, we were led down onto the manufacturing area to trams and large golf carts for our tour.

As we waited to board, we watched a half dozen robots in a fenced off "room" called a cell as they efficiently made welds on small metal parts. I couldn't help but think of an earlier post about how kids working with remote controled toys and computer games might actually be learning skills for the future. Someone had to be in control of those robots.

The golf cart took us past many other cells with robots making welds to other metal parts and then on to the larger stamping machines, the largest of which shook the floor slightly as the dies were pressed together to form the metal part. Cameras and cell phones were not allowed in the manufacturing area but there are some pictures with this article online about the plant.

It was a fascinating look into car manufacturing and we were grateful for the opportunity to see it. The workers who organized and guided us were gracious hosts. GM plants all over the country are having open houses throughout the year. You might want to see if there is one near you. Some of them require registration. We had to visit a Chevy dealer for ours. Kids over the age of 9 were welcome.

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