In October, I visited a Taiwanese bicycle frame factory with Brilliant Bicycles.
The shop was 10 or 20 thousand feet. A significant portion of it was storage, and there was a smallish office area near the front door. We met the owners and had lunch upstairs above the office, which provided a nice place to take a pan of the whole shop.
The sheer quantity of dedicated fixtures here was kind of staggering. I couldn't tell (and didn't ask) but it seemed like they probably made fixtures for a lot of frame subassemblies, each of which would be dedicated to a certain frame model and size. This video shows about half of the fixtures that I saw in storage.
Frame subassemblies were tacked and stacked in tall piles. I'd guess that the main frame fixture took an hour or two to set up, but at that point the tacking would go quickly. The subassemblies would then be moved down the welding line, comme ci:
The quality of the welding here was very good. There were a bunch of guys doing TIG and a few brazing dropouts. They all had big fans running, but it was still hot. We were around right as their lunch break began:
As with the fork factory we visited, the alignment process was *so* cool; unlike the fork factory, I didn't take a video of it :( As I watched the one alignment guy go through his routine, I couldn't help but compare it to my old Traffic Cycle Design alignment setup. This guy was doing a full, thorough frame alignment, *and* reaming seat tubes, all in something like 2 minutes. I would have been hard pressed to do the same in a half hour.
All in all, this factory was *really* fun to visit. Its super interesting seeing someone else perform tasks that are similar to ones you've done. In all honesty, I was always really attracted to the idea of having a much larger shop setup - and one that could perform tasks much more efficiently than I was ever able to. It was fun seeing that kind of operation running in real life.