Founded in 1954 by David Johnson and brothers Edgar and Allan Hetteen, Polaris Industries is now a global powersports leader. Employing over 10,000 people worldwide with annual sales in 2017 of $5.4 billion, Polaris has been the world leader in off-road vehicles for over 30 years. In 2014, Polaris bolstered its manufacturing capability by opening the first Polaris factory intended for the production of off-road vehicles outside of North America in Opole, Poland.
With over 300 employees, the 33,700m² Opole facility plays a pivotal role in the production, homologation and development of off-road vehicles for Europe, Middle East and African markets for Polaris. In 2017, the Opole Distribution Centre was built which occupies an area of 17,500m².
The average journey for one of the 7000 active components coming into the facility from one of the 200 vendors from around the world, would start upon their arrival into the warehouse area. There are over 3300 pallet locations in the racking system and 1000 supermarket flow rack locations for the components to be housed and sorted. Any parts that come from overseas in disposable packaging are repacked into internal reusable boxes.
Next stop is the Welding area, which currently produces 46 ATVs and 26 SXS each day. Each of the 10 dual stations for ATV or 20 stations for SXS chassis are fitted with fume ventilation systems and a Visual Work Instruction screen which presents an isometric view of the parts to the operator. There’s a robotic welding cell too, where suspension components are manufactured.
Painting operations consist of both plastic and metal painting areas. The plastic paint areas have two spraying ovens installed and the metal painting system has an automated painting line which takes care of the whole process from chemical pre-treatment to curing. All painters are trained in house to ensure they’re perfectly qualified.
The facilities and plant service team ensure the factory runs smoothly and equipment is maintained. There is also a dedicated test team who put the vehicles under scrutiny on the 2km test track, situated at the rear of the factory – this also includes an asphalt test area, to simulate on-road experience. This data, along with the experiences of the test drivers, is used to further develop vehicles with the US team.
Once the components have been welded and painted, they make their way to their penultimate stop – assembly. There are two horse-shoe shaped assembly lines – one for RZR, RANGER and GENERAL vehicles and one for ATVs and ACE vehicles. Operators are provided with visual work instructions – 3D image files and the operator can rotate the image to view different angles – instead of paper instructions. The material is presented in convenient packing and locations so that there’s little material handling for the operator.
Designed with efficiency at the heart, all of the operators are visible from any point on the line so that the group leaders can see how the production is flowing and make any corrections should there be any problems. The length of the assembly process depends on the complexity of the vehicle. An example of a complex vehicle would be the RANGER, which takes around one hour 20 minutes to assemble. Staff are rotated between the different assembly lines to ensure they are skilled on both lines and their minds are fresh.
Once assembled, vehicles are tested on a rolling road to check all functions and then put directly into a crate and wrapped, ready for distribution. Random vehicles are pulled from the line and checked for extra quality checks. Nearly 40,000 have been produced since the ISO 9001 certified factory opened in 2015 – it was the first Polaris factory with a certified Quality Management System.
“Working at the Polaris factory here in Opole isn’t just a job for our employees – our staff take part in charity events, attend Polaris events and are able to experience the Polaris product for themselves. We foster a positive working environment and as a result have a low staff turnover. Since opening the factory, the nearly three-quarters of the staff who started with us in 2015, are still with us and we have members of the same family who work here. We look forward to the future of the Opole facility – and see it going from strength to strength due to our capacity and our employees skills.”, said Director of Operations at Polaris Opole, Bogusław Dawiec.
‘Understand the riding experience. Live the riding experience. Work to make it better.’