Product Design and Business students from Years 10-13 visited the Mini plant in Oxford to take part in an exclusive tour of the manufacturing facilities which churn out a bespoke Mini every minute and seven seconds. The trip was the perfect opportunity for students to experience first-hand the specialist logistics and equipment used to maintain a Just-in-time production line.
The tour gave them access to the body-in-white facility, which is where the body panels and sub-assemblies (which have been pre-manufactured in Swindon) come in and are assembled to create the body shell. That involves between 5000-6000 spot welds per body shell.
We were able to witness some of the 1000 robots using laser welding techniques to complete the body shell production. In some cases up to 8 robots could work on one body simultaneously. Perhaps what was most amazing was the sheer scale of the production and the sophisticated logistics required to maintain efficiency. Following the body-in-white facility the body shells go through painting and then we toured around the final assembly line to see the individual Minis take their shape with their barcode and transponder containing details of the customer’s individual specifications. State of the art camera visioning systems are utilised along the assembly line for quality checking. It was certainly like nothing we have seen before and the students gained a real appreciation of the awe-inspiring scale and sheer level of automation.
It’s just a shame we didn’t get to drive any home and had to return in the coach – perhaps next time!
Head of Technology