Well-run factories are imperative to the success of any consumer goods companies, and even to the well-being of whole economies. Companies can corner whole markets by recognizing a viable product and acquiring or constructing a factory to focus on specialised, mass production.
While a factory is a huge investment with equally huge maintenance costs, these locations are used to manufacture and sell in bulk, cutting overall production costs to a minimum. Not only do these companies cut back on costs, but their factories also allow for reasonably cheap labor and create employment, especially when constructed or acquired near towns.
Walmart, the most notorious - and largest - discount store in the United States, has numerous massive-scale distribution centers to cater to its 11,088 locations. Its rival, Target, has four import distribution centers to cater to its import needs. Hyundai and Volkswagen have the largest automobile plants in the world, as a way to give themselves the competitive edge in expanding and increasing their production output.
Typically, those institutions and companies with the largest factories also are similarly some of the largest and most influential names in the world. The following are the 15 largest factories in the world, and the names behind them.
15 NASA Vehicle Assembly Building
Located between Miami and Jacksonville, the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building is the largest single-story building in the world.
It was built in 1966 to allow for the proper assembly of the Saturn V rocket used for the Apollo program. It measures a sizeable 32,374 m² with 3.66 million m³ of volume. It covers some 8 acres of land and is 525ft tall. This assembly building also has some of the most fascinating features of any factory in the world: Examples include four 456 foot doors - which are gargantuan by any standard - plus 71 cranes, and over 98,000 tons of steel.
14 Meyer Werft Dockhalle 2
Meyer Werft is one of the largest shipyard companies located in Germany.
Founded in 1795, it houses the largest shipping hall worldwide, Dockhalle 2. This shipping hall has an impressive floor area of 63,000 m², which is mainly used to construct cruise ships. This roofed dry dock has a length of 504m, a width of 125m and a height of 75m. Examples of ships built in this shipyard include Norwegian Star, Norwegian Dawn, Radiance of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, AIDAbella and Norwegian Jewel.
Aerium is a redeveloped factory initially intended to be an airship hangar. The Nazis built this humongous establishment in the early years of World War II to develop their military base.
They occupied the site until 1945, when the Red Army seized it. The Soviet Army then increased the runway from 1,000m to 2,500m. This made the building an effective place to house fighter planes. In 1994, following the reunification of East Germany, the Soviet Army returned the base to the Government of Germany. 2 years later, a company named CargoLifter acquired the building to build airships.
Unfortunately, it went bankrupt six years later. The building was then sold to a Malaysian company, which used the space to construct a tropical theme park.
12 Constellation Bristol
Constellation Bristol is a wine connoisseur’s dream come true, as one of the largest beer and wine warehouses in the world. Measuring a whooping 850,000 sq ft, Constellation Bristol can carry a jaw-dropping 9.5 million gallons of alcohol. That’s approximately 14 Olympic-sized pools.
It houses 57 million wine bottles, accounting for about 15% of United Kingdom’s total wine market. It took three years and a cash injection of 100 million GDP to erect. The warehouse bottles some 800 bottles of wine a minute, equating to 6,000,000 bottles every day.
11 Tesco Ireland Distribution Centre
This distribution center is the largest building in Ireland. Opened in 2007, this dry grocery and electrical goods distribution center measures 80,194 m². The building is huge; it is close to half a mile in length, which will take the average person some 12 minutes to walk end to end.
The Tesco center is also equipped with 100 loading bays, and was constructed at a cost of 70 million EUR.
10 Lauma Fabrics
Lauma Fabrics specializes in the production of lace and raw materials for lingerie. It also manufactures elastic ribbons and fabric. Being one of the largest companies in this industry, Lauma possesses the largest fabric factory in the world.
The factory measures a stunning 115,645 m2 with a length of 225m and a width of 505m. Its construction began in 1965 in Liepāja, Latvia, at a time when unemployment was high. Its initial name was 'Women’s Toiletry Production Factory’ but was later changed to Lauma Fabrics, in 1965.
9 Jean-Luc Lagardère Plant
The Jean-Luc Lagardère Plant is mainly used as a final assembly line in the production of the 800-seater, $428 million Airbus A380. Located in Toulouse-Blagnac, the 470m long assembly line has a footprint of 122,500 m².
Parts of the Airbus A380 are manufactured in several locations including Spain, UK, Germany and France. These parts are then brought to the Jean-Luc Lagardère Plant for final assembly. The assembled airplane is then tested at the same location. With a total surface area of 494 acres, the plant also houses company restaurants, a fully-fledged fluid and energy production plant, as well as 49 acres of runways.
8 Target Import Warehouse
Target is the second largest United States discount retailer, and for that, it needs a humongous warehouse. Of its warehouses, Targets Import Warehouse is by far the largest, having a total floor area of 185,800 m².
Target built this warehouse to distribute imported products to its internal distribution centers. It isn’t hard to see why Target needed so much real estate for this particular operation: It has 1,934 stores across North America that always need to be stocked up to make the customer happy. Target also has three more import warehouses.
7 Belvidere Assembly Plant
Located in Illinois, United States, Belvidere Assembly Plant is a Chrysler factory that assembles car brands such as the Jeep Compass, the Jeep Patriot and the Dodge Dart. The plant has also assembled past models such as Dodge Caliber, Chrysler Imperial, Dodge Dynasty, Chrysler New Yorker and the Plymouth Neon.
The plant measures 330,000 m² and is 700m long and 300m wide spread over 280 acres of land. Its labor force mainly consists of robots, with its body shop hosting approximately 780 robots.
6 Mitsubishi Motors North America
Founded in 1981, Mitsubishi Motors North America oversees the manufacturing, production, sales, research and development of the Mitsubishi car brand across the US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada through a well-developed network of over 700 car dealers.
To keep up with this demand, the company has put up a massive 220,000 m² factory that mainly deals with the Mitsubishi Outlander. It has also produced other cars such as the Mitsubishi Galant, Eclipse, Eclipse Spyder, Endeavor and Chrysler Sebring. This gargantuan factory is located in Normal, Illinois.
5 Boeing Factory in Everett
Everett, Washington is home to the largest Boeing facility in the world. The Boeing Everett Factory has a mind-blowing floor area of 398,000 m². It covers 98.3 acres of land, and it is the location where the Boeing 747, 767, and 777 are made. The assembly of the newly launched 787 Dreamliner also takes place here.
Construction of the factory began in 1966 after Pan American World Airways placed an order for 25 747s valued at $525 million. This factory also features Tully’s coffee stands, cafes, a theatre and the Boeing Store. Boeing also allows factory tours through the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour.
4 Tesla Factory
Elon Musk’s Tesla Company has been all the rage of late. Tesla Motors focuses solely on the production of electric cars and electric powertrain components. Situated in Fremont, California, this expansive automobile car production facility has a footprint of 510,000 m².
Tesla didn't build this factory from the ground up. Instead, they bought a factory formerly owned by General Motors and Toyota known as New United Motor Manufacturing. Tesla reportedly paid $42 million for the space and took over in 2010. The Tesla Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Roadster are manufactured in this plant.
3 Aalsmeer Flower Auction Building
Technically not a mainstream factory, Aalsmeer Flower Auction building is the largest building in the world in terms of its real estate space: It covers a gigantic 518,000 m² and is home to the largest flower auction worldwide. The building is 740m long and 700m wide.
Approximately 25 million flowers from countries such as Kenya, Colombia, Ethiopia and Ecuador are traded here on a daily basis. The building covers 243 acres, which is arguably the most fragrant edifice in the world. Flowers are rigorously checked for perfection before they are sold. Sales increase dramatically during holidays such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
2 Hyundai Motor Company's Ulsan Factory
The Hyundai Motor Company's Ulsan manufacturing facility occupies a total space of 5,050,000 m². This South Korean plant is spread over 1,225 acres of land. It has five distinct production plants and is able to produce a car every 12 seconds. That's equivalent to an impressive 1.53 million units annually.
The site is so large that it houses its own hospital, fire services, road network, and sewage treatment plant. The Hyundai Motor Company's Ulsan factory also boasts over 500,000 trees and an exclusive pier with a capacity of hosting three 50,000-ton cargo ships at a time.
1 Volkswagen Wolfsburg Plant
Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant has produced over 40 million cars over the years. It is the largest auto plant in the world, covering a whooping 6,500,000 m². This imposing factory is so huge that floor workers are allowed to use bicycles to make their way around. What’s more fascinating about this factory is that the employees can be working on more than five different cars at a time without compromising on efficiency or quality.
The factory also possesses the largest state of the art European paint shop. It's the first paint shop to use eco-friendly water-based paint.