At the historic Peugeot factory in Sochaux, the goal is to reduce fuel consumption and profitability

At the historic Peugeot factory in Sochaux, the goal is to reduce fuel consumption and profitability


To publish Download the PDF

By Redaction Reform with AFP

Although the factory’s workforce has been halved over the past ten years, the Stellantis group, resulting from the merger of Peugeot, Fiat and Chrysler, intends to “renovate the historic site” with automation to increase its productivity.

Peugeot’s historic factory in Sochaux wants to be at the forefront of automation, ahead of the arrival of its first electric model in 2024. What? Being more compact, fast, flexible, with less staff. Peugeot, Lutherans from the country of Montbeliard, have significantly contributed to the economic and social development of France since the 18th century, by building an industrial empire. Which was also a pioneer in the social field, thanks to the influence of the Protestant culture of this family of industrialists.

In Doubs, the new Stellantis group, resulting from the alliance of Peugeot, Fiat and Chrysler, is now seeking to prove that it is “ability to modify the historical site“, emphasized, Monday, September 5, the industrial director of Stellantis, Arnaud Deboeuf, during a visit to the press. “It’s over, the beauty of big factories.” This large area, which caused the diversion of the national road and the river to take up to 265 hectares, has lost a third of its area.

The labor force was halved in ten years

Operations (stocks, stamping, assembly, painting) were housed in certain buildings, and part of the land was allocated to subcontractors or transport companies, following a 200 million euro transformation plan launched in 2017. robot transport parts along the assembly line, ensure the installation of engines, windshields, and the quality check section. The small high-rise building has a new masterpiece costing 8 million euros, the “transtockere”: an automated warehouse that can store and unload up to 4,500 pallets, inspired by the systems used by Carrefour or Amazon.

This automatic equipment “it will serve as a ‘showcase’ for our other factories“, in Italy, the United States or Eastern Europe, emphasized Arnaud Deboeuf. Stellantis, which has shown excellent financial health since its creation, has pledged to reduce its production costs by 40%. The stamping workshop, which presses the metal parts, is also increasing speed, after an investment of 33 million euros: blocks of 20 tons will soon be pressing 8 parts at the same time, at a rate of 15 strokes per minute. The drought regime also applied to employment: the leading industrial region in France until 2013, Sochaux has seen its workforce halved in ten years, mainly in terms of workers, through several voluntary exit schemes.

Reduces “epidemic” posts.

The plant now employs 6,200 workers on permanent contracts, with fewer and fewer part-time workers. By increasing its productivity, the site’s mission is to improve its profitability and maintain its volume at 400,000 vehicles per year. The manufacturer also wants the plant to continue to evolve, in an automotive industry that has been disrupted more than two years ago by covid and equipment. The shortage of microchips has however caused management to stop the line several times in recent months.

It’s very unsettling at the room level, and at the social level: you never know if you’ll be working the next day.“, emphasizes Vincent Rinaldi, CFTC union representative. Partial unemployment guarantees wages up to 84%. Jérôme Broussard, representative of the CGT party, regrets the job cuts “disaster” for the region. And “we don’t know when it will end“, he is worried. “The work conditions are very difficult, the pace is high. Despite the semiconductor problem, we push the machine to the limit with continuous work rhythms. We have a Saturday planned in spades.”