This week the Lower and Upper Sixth Product Design Technologists travelled to the BMW Mini production facility at Cowley, near Oxford. The site which formerly produced MG cars for many years is the home to the production of the First, Second and now Third generation Mini.
The groups toured the ‘Body in White’ facility and were at one point stood on a gantry surveying 360 degrees of the continuous movement of 2100+ robots, all busily picking, moving and welding the body shells of the vehicles as they moved along the production line. It was quite a sight to be surrounded by £10.5M+ of never ceasing manufacture. The plant at this point aims to produce a body per hour.
Following this, the groups went on to look at how ‘Lean Manufacture’ and ‘Just in Time’ production methods are used in the assembly plant where overall it takes a Mini around 28 hours to go from a highly scheduled set of parts to a running vehicle with over 95% working from first start. Quality control, logistics and team work were highlighted as key qualities at the plant. The pupils were amazed to see that the planning and scheduling that had gone on just six weeks previously was playing out in front of them.
Head of PDT, Dom Evans, said, “The group were given a real insight into how the use of technology helps build each car and its ‘DNA’ of data to support every stage from the time and power used in each weld to the smooth running of the assembly line. The environment was safe clean and highly organised as one would expect. Our thanks to all at BMW Cowley but especially John Strange our guide for the afternoon.”