The Winnebago brand has become a household name and is known for three core features: Quality, Innovation and Service. The quality that goes into each and every Winnebago motorhome starts with a team of production employees focusing on quality throughout every step of the motorhome production process. The “magic” of starting with a plain chassis and having it leave as a fully complete motorhome ready for your next adventure happens at the Winnebago Factory in Forest City, Iowa.
Read more about Winnebago Factory below:
The Plastics Facility is approximately 67,460 sq. ft. in size and is responsible for providing custom thermoformed ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic components to be used in motorhome production. Inside the Plastics Building ABS plastic sheets are heated and molded into a variety of RV parts including shower stalls, dashes, bumpers and more. Each part is designed to provide an exact fit for its application.
The process to shape the ABS plastic uses 1” ABS plastic sheets. The ABS sheet stock is heated to a malleable temperature, then pulled over a mold in a process called Thermoforming. The material is then sealed to the mold and a vacuum is pulled within the mold. The material is stretched and drawn into the shape of the mold and allowed to cool. To eliminate waste, after new a ABS part cools, excess material is removed from it and ground down and sold back to the supplier for re-use.
The rotational molding facility is approximately 65,568 sq. ft. in size and produces polyethylene components for Winnebago motorhomes. Rotocast processing involves a process that turns polyethylene beads into a variety of parts including holding tanks, water tanks, luggage compartments, heat ducts and wheel wells.
The process starts when the beads are pulled from storage silos. They are then ground up and the resulting powder is then weighed and put into an enclosed mold. The mold is then rotated multiple times in order to coat the entire inside of the mold. Heat and friction turn the material to a liquid while turning the tool in all directions. As the liquid cools it coats the inner tool and forms a seamless sealed tank or part. Every tank is then water-tested with compressed air to check for any leaks.
These custom molds allow Winnebago to design the most efficient tank shape and achieve optimal utilization of the space in a coach. It also allows them to include additional insulation in the bottom of motorhome showers to reduce shower noise. The Winnebago Rotocast Facility processes over 675,000 lbs. of materials annually.
The Stitchcraft facility is approximately 72,000 sq. ft. in size and is responsible for fabricating all soft goods used in Winnebago Motorhomes. These items include bucket seats, recliners, couches, mattresses and draperies. In addition, the Stitchcraft factory fabricates all decorative pads such as door panels and headboards.
The fabrication of seats and cushions starts with cutting. To begin, data on what is needed is downloaded to a numerically controlled Gerber Diamond Tip cutting system that is used to obtain the optimal yield of fabrics. The Gerber electronic cutting machine can cut up to (40) layers of fabric at one time. A clear plastic “silk” is pulled over the material on the vacuum table, allowing the Gerber system to cut individual pieces automatically. This same system is used to cut carpets for the RVs.
After the zippers are put in, the cut fabrics are transported to the main sew lines. Each sewer uses a high-speed automatic sewing machine. A conveyer belts brings the items down the line and each person adds their specific sewing features to make a complete item.
The cushions are either filled with upholstery or stuffing. The upholstery process stretches fabric over a padded frame such as a couch, lounge chair or passenger seat. Cushion (foam) stuffing is made easier with the use of a proprietary “suction machine” that draws the air from the foam and collapses it to a ¼ of its original size. The foam is then inserted into the fabric sleeve and the air is inserted back into the foam. A truckload of cut foam is used each day.
Stitchcraft is one of the oldest in-house “suppliers” at Winnebago and provides comfortable durable furnishings engineered to meet the rigorous standards for motorhome furniture. In the Stitchcraft facility approximately 40 seats, 20 lounge chairs and 20 sofas are built daily.
Contact a Lichtsinn RV consultant today to find out more about a Winnebago Factory Tour for a current schedule.
The Forest City Sawmill/Cabinet Shop is approximately 223,000 sq. ft. in size. This, along with the Charles City Hardwoods Division, produce all wood cabinet assemblies and cabinet components needed for the Winnebago motorhome assembly lines.
The process begins with each piece of wood being inspected. Assuming the wood passes inspection it is then cut to the correct length. Numerically controlled routing and sawing, pine framing, lamination and assembly all takes place before it goes on a monorail system to the Motorhome assembly/Big Berth Building to be installed.
LINE 1 and WAREHOUSE
The Line 1 and Warehouse building currently serve two functions, parts storage and the construction completion of Class A units. This building is the largest building on the Forest City Campus at over (10) acres or (10) football field in length. This building is approximately 386,465 sq. ft. and includes (16) outside truck docks and features (2) lines. One line for Class A Gas and one for Class A Diesel. This facility uses precise engineering to install slideouts, awnings, overall testing, decals and quality checks. From this building, all RVs go to Shipout for their final inspection. The Warehouse can process at least (15) truckloads per day and up to (300) per month.
CHASSIS PREP AND METAL STAMPING
Winnebago motorhomes are known for their use of precision-formed steel in the cab structure and other critical applications. Chassis Prep and Metal Stamping is where it all originates. The Chassis Prep building measures approximately 182,484 sq. ft. and the Metal Stamping building measures approximately 91,502 sq. ft.
The Chassis Prep process consists of two areas. Half of this space is dedicated to the preparation of the chassis and the other the half, including the mezzanines, is dedicated to the fabrication of various cabs. There is also a large electrodeposition paint system to prevent the corrosion of steel components. All chassis (mixed models) are put on a conveyer belt system and brought down the line backwards. The assembly lines move 8-10 inches a minute. Here the generator, jacks, wiring and full panoramic windshield features are added, if applicable, to the chassis along with the cab and basement storage.
The Metal Stamping facility is responsible for supplying all steel components to chassis prep and the support groups for production. These components are made up of two classifications: structural and sheet metal parts. Structural shapes are cut to length by a self-feeding programmable laser tube cutter. These parts are sent to welding.
Sheet metal parts are fabricated in Winnebago’s flexible manufacturing system which consists of an advanced nesting program. The nests are sent out to flatbed lasers, turrets and right-angle shears. These parts are followed by allocating operations in a variety of press brakes and stamping presses. Any Robotic arc welding is performed by certified welders.
MOTORHOME ASSEMBLY/BIG BERTHA
The Big Bertha factory is where everything comes together, chassis roll in and Winnebago motorhomes roll out. This building measures approximately 351,025 sq. ft. and is one of the largest in the plant at (8) football fields long.
The facility is divided into two areas, with half dedicated to panel lamination and the other half, including the mezzanines, dedicated to vehicle assembly. There are two lines in Panel Lamination including: floor-roof and sidewall. Each line has a two to three step lamination process followed by a CNC router cutout.
Motorhome Assembly consists of (3) lines. Each run mixed-model assembly which shortens delivery time and improves quality. Winnebago utilizes a kit building system, which works like a grocery store with all available parts. The parts are placed on racks and as they are needed, are placed on the line. Winnebago employees take the parts off the racks and place them in the RVs.
There are two areas of the building, the South and North ends. The South end teams focus on floors, water lines, gray tanks, fiberglass and battery pack installation. The North end teams focus on sidewalls and roof installation. Most Class A and C RVs have fiberglass roofs. The sidewalls are cut in an enclosed area. To cut a sidewall, a laser points down on the sidewall to show Winnebago employees where to place metal strips. The sidewall then goes through a high-pressure roller. The RVs then move to the roof area and are placed on a monorail system.
Any needed woodwork is provided from the Sawmill. Then any sidewall appliances, cabinets, furniture and air conditioners are installed and then decals are added. When this is complete the RV will be at the North end of the building and moves to CDI for standard or full-body paint.
The Specialty Vehicles building focuses on building custom vehicles for mobile medical, event marketing, community outreach and accessibility applications. The building measures approximately 31,000 sq. ft. Due to the customized design of these motorhomes, Winnebago Specialty Vehicles, including Commercial Shells and Accessibility Enhanced motorhomes, are built by a dedicated team in a customized Forest City facility.
The Specialty Vehicle group works with OEMs, upfitters, dealer and end users in the B2B, non-profit and government sectors to design and build vehicles for a wide variety of uses. This division has been around for over 40 years producing RVs for varying applications including mobile blood units, mobile classrooms, electric vehicles and more.
Shipout is the last stop before motorhomes are delivered to dealers and measures approximately 49,204 sq. ft. The Shipout Department serves as the ultimate quality-control step in the manufacturing process. At Shipout the final inspection is done on the completed motorhome. All appliances and electronics are also tested at this time. Each motorhome undergoes a road and water test and front alignment. During the water test each motorhome is driven into the water test booth where it undergoes (5) minutes of extremely high water pressures with the slideouts both in and out.
The Winnebago Factory, located in Forest City, Iowa is one of the most technologically advanced RV manufacturing facilities in existence today. To learn more about Winnebago Quality and Winnebago motorhome production contact a Lichtsinn RV consultant today!
Experience the Best® at Lichtsinn RV, awarded by Winnebago Industries as the #1 Winnebago Dealer in North America each year since 2015. Lichtsinn RV is located 1 mile north of Winnebago Industries in Forest City, IA and we proudly sell new Winnebago motorhomes and pre-owned RVs from various manufacturers. While at Lichtsinn RV, you can expect no delivery miles on new RVs, a complimentary half-day educational orientation of your RV, excellent guest reviews, an assigned support team from sales, parts, service and the business office, superior accommodations, no-hassle pricing and competitive financing. See our extensive new and used inventory here.
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