While we were in Italy checking out the EIMCA show, we took a day off to visit the Husqvarna factory. Just over one year ago, we visited the same place, but it looked completely different. At the time, the company had just been purchased by BMW and everything was in transition. The factory had to undergo a divorce from MV Agusta, which had previously shared the same facility. Harley Davidson was purchasing that line, so some buildings went with Husqvarna and others went with Agusta. Husky had to have a new headquarters. Now, about 14 months later, the new building is complete and Husqvarna is in full production.
BMW inserted only four German employees in the Italian facility, which currently employs 260 people. One of them is CFO Thomas Moser, who guided us on a factory tour. Since BMW’s involvement, Husqvarna has manufactured over 25,000 units, which is a significant increase.
One of the most significant changes that BMW brought to the table was more emphasis on quality control. Motorcycles are pulled off the assembly line for a full audit, which means they are disassembled and thoroughly inspected from one end to another in this department.
After the audit, flaws are noted and the bike is placed on display with these little arrows pointing out problems. BMW also keeps careful tack of flawed components and a list of “Worst suppliers” is displayed on the wall with a column for “action taken.” German efficiency is sometimes brutal.
When BMW reconfigured the assembly line, the workers were asked to design their own stations to minimize wasted movement. Each station has to consume similar amounts of time so that there is no stoppage, and careful attention is paid to keeping the parts bins topped off. The four-stroke motors are assembled on the left side of this row while the two-strokes are on the right. When we visited, four-strokes were in production and the two-stroke line was idle. When demand increases, both lines are run concurrently.
After the motors are complete, they are cold tested. This means that the motors are spun by an external motor to check for shifting and such. They are also pressure tested.
The chassis assembly line is next. Husqvarna recently changed suppliers for the frames, which are welded by a contracted company. The old supplier couldn’t maintain the quality that BMW demanded.
When each motorcycle comes off the line, it runs on the dyno. After that, it goes to a final inspection. The units that don’t pass go to a special location to  be corrected.

At the end of the line, the motorcycle are grouped by destination. Some require disassembly before being crated while others are shipped as rolling units. The current owners have been able to increase production with fewer employees. Currently, Husky is making about 13,500 units a year, but has the capacity to build 45,000 with a single shift. Double shifts could produce almost 90,000, so when the market returns, Husqvarna has the ability to meet demand. The biggest problem would be finding space to stack up the finished units, but that’s a problem for another time and a better economy.

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