A Stunning Global Project of the Year

Owner:
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Market:
Location:
Goiana, Pernambuco, Brazil
Size:
6.2 million square feet

A massive effort by humans and machines produced Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ largest, most technologically advanced and sustainable plant ever.

Construction of the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Jeep Assembly Complex in Goiana, Pernambuco, Brazil, began in 2013.

In 2015, FCA opened a vehicle manufacturing goliath: a 3.5 million-square-foot main plant and an adjacent 2.7 million-square-foot tier-1 supplier park. It’s the largest complex the company has opened to date.

Named by Engineering News-Record as the 2015 Global Best Manufacturing Project of the Year, the Goiana project created multiple facilities, including:

  • Assembly Plant
  • Body Shop
  • Stamping Plant
  • Paint Shop
  • Communication Center
  • 12-Building Supplier Park

Additionally, an employee training center, research and development facilities, a 1.5-kilometer test track, and 1 million square feet of support buildings were also built.

Challenges

Located roughly two hours away from the closest metropolis, the colossal complex was built on a former sugar cane field.

Because of the travel time, it made more sense to produce certain construction materials on-site, instead of transporting them. Roughly 45 percent of work at the site was self-performed, the largest self-perform design-build job ever for Walbridge.

Beyond constructing the buildings, a utility infrastructure needed to be built as well.
Nearly 5,000 workers were on-site daily at the peak of the job, many of whom were transported to the remote location from 50 kilometers away. More than 5,000 meals were prepared for the workforce each day in on-site kitchens.

Approach

To start, Walbridge and its Brazilian construction partner began construction on the massive 1,500-seat cafeteria and locker room which later could be used by FCA in 2013.

Beyond the challenge of dealing with so many workers on a single project, the use of multiple languages by members of the construction team posed another issue. With Italian, Portuguese and English being the main languages spoken on the job, highly-skilled translators and visual communicators played a crucial role in the project’s success.

Walbridge and its partner set up business in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to oversee the project while Walbridge sent its very best and most experienced group of industrial personnel to work the job, fully prepared to build the largest manufacturing facility in South America and one of the largest in the world.

An incredible 8,400,277 work hours were logged at the Goiana Jeep Assembly Plant construction site and the overall safety record was exemplary.