Steel Toe Tour

February 9th, 2015 by

Some of us here at Riverside Harley-Davidson recently were able to go visit the Vehicle and Powertrain Operations Headquarters for Harley-Davidson in Kansas City, Missouri.  We were able to take the “Steel Toe Tour” which took us on a 2-hour behind the scenes look at what goes into building an American Legend, which we all know as a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.

At the Kansas City location, these employees build and produce the Sportster®, Dyna®, Street™and V-Rod® families of motorcycles along with select Softail® models.  During the Steel Toe Tour they took us behind the scenes onto the factory floor where we were able to see the fenders and fuel tanks being formed by sophisticated robotic welding technology.  We were able to see newly painted frames hanging on the line and were able to see the assembly line where motorcycles were put together starting from the frame all the way down to the completion of the bike.

Some things that we found interesting were the fact that only certain employees were allowed in the room where the fuel tanks were painted.  These employees were not allowed to wear make-up, cologne, certain kinds of deodorant because of the chemicals that could get onto the paint and damage the fresh coat.  We learned that each employee on the assembly line work in teams of 2 and only have about 3 minutes to put together their piece of the motorcycle.  Each motorcycle as it goes through the assembly line, has their “birth certificate” which is color coated based on the country the motorcycle will be getting shipped out to.  California of course is its, “own country” because of our admission laws.  All motorcycles built and produced in the Kansas City plant have already been purchased by a dealership and are ready to be displayed on showroom floors around the world.

Once they have a finished motorcycle there are specific employees that take them for a quick spin on there in-factory test run, if everything works properly, from the horn, headlight, down to the braking and engine it is ready to be packaged and shipped out to its designated Harley-Davidson dealer.  If there is something wrong it goes into the “Harley Hospital” where a mechanic goes over the bike with a fine tooth comb to make sure this bike is ready for customers.  They then place the bike with yellow dots on the parts where something went wrong and place them into the employee breakroom for 24 hours, here employees and managers can see which department dropped the ball that day.  Managers go through the bike and figure out how that department will not make that same mistake the following day.

Needless to say this was one of the coolest experiences a Harley enthusiast can check out.  Below are some of the photos that we took in the lobby of the building.  Unfortunately due to confidentially there were no pictures allowed to be taken in behind the scenes on the factory floor.  We encourage everyone that does get the chance to take this tour, to do it!

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