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Passionate about the launch

Manuel Oliveira is in charge of the production launch of the T-Roc at the Palmela site in Portugal. His is a new position that can influence the product engineering process early on, and therefore serves as a model for other car production plants. The three big Ps play a key role here.

Proud of the first T-Roc: Manuel Oliveira (48) has directed the lead-up to production for the T-Roc at the Palmela site. An old hand at this plant in Portugal, he started working there soon after it opened.

Oliveira is a calm and thoughtful man. He needs to be. After all, he is responsible for coordinating all the different factors that relate to starting up production of a new car. And this is not just any new car, but rather the new T-Roc, which figures prominently in the Volkswagen brand’s SUV campaign.

Manuel Oliveira is the production launch manager at the Palmela plant in Portugal. This position was newly created with the goal of turning production starts into routine processes that run smoothly within defined budgets, and thereby ultimately increase productivity. That is the way it is formulated in the action field “start-up excellence” in the Production and Logistics department’s new strategy TRANSFORM.FACTORY+.

The main job of the 48-year-old is to coordinate the start of production for the T-Roc across all the departments of the Palmela site. The three big Ps play a crucial role here. On matters concerning product, planning, and processes, Oliveira can exert influence at an early stage from his position as production launch manager. To put it another way, he and his team assess whether the site can actually implement what the engineers and designers in Wolfsburg have devised or developed. The idea is to prevent the need for late-term changes that incur big costs and threaten the ability to meet deadlines.

» You can see the added value in the T-Roc’s smooth launch. «

Manuel Oliveira

To achieve this goal, the mechanical engineer and members of his front-loading team in Portugal participated over the years in all the major T-Roc talks in Wolfsburg, where the SUV was developed. “We were involved in the planning and development at an early stage of the product engineering process,” Oliveira says. “That pays off. You can see the added value in the T-Roc’s smooth launch.” For precisely this reason, he recommends that every car-making plant outside Wolfsburg adopt the same new launch management approach.

That is indeed the plan, according to Bernd Fasterding from the Wolfsburg pilot hall’s site liaison team. “Launch ­management plays a key role at each site in ensuring that the lead-up to production runs smoothly. Palmela has broken new ground in developing a launch management strategy for the brand.”

Oliveira is pleased to hear this. He is one of the old hands at the site near Lisbon. He started working there 24 years ago, about a year after the Volkswagen Autoeuropa plant was opened.

Before becoming the production launch manager, he directed the pilot hall. And he also periodically spent time in Wolfsburg – for a total of eight years – first as a trainee, later as an assistant department head in technical development, and then in his current function as launch manager for the T-Roc. “It’s a wonderful, exciting project that I’m passionate about,” he says. “It’s more of a marathon than a sprint.” And he knows what he’s talking about with this comparison. In his free time, Oliveira – a native of Portugal – enjoys running, cycling, and swimming.