Back in the 1940s, Volkswagen employed workers based on their height. Very short employees would work on mechanical aspects underneath the vehicle, while tall employees would focus on the upper parts of the vehicle. Now, 70 years since the company was founded in South Africa, mechanisation has automated many processes. At Volkswagen South Africa's plant in Uitenhage - where about 600 robots assemble 3 000 units on each Polo - it takes one minute and 57 seconds to build the structure of each vehicle when the metal is pressed to shape. When at full capacity in April and operating 24/7, producing about 600 cars a day, there will be 300 more employees at the plant - in contrast to the expectation that mechanisation would make jobs redundant. Despite the overwhelming number of machines at the plant, Babalwa Klaas, technical development practitioner at VWSA, said that it was impossible to run the plant without staff. Thomas Schäefer, MD and chairman of VWSA, said mechanisation should not ...

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