That’s is the claim of MINI Plant Oxford who hosted a group of Fellows and their guests on a tour of the MINI manufacturing plant on Tuesday 6 September 2016.
Many Fellows had memories of the Cowley factory from years ago, however those memories were dramatically changed when they took their first steps inside the state of the art manufacturing plant. BMW have invested £1.75 Billion since 2000 and the scale of this investment is simply remarkable
The tour started in Body in White where the exterior shape is formed. The body shell production is almost completely automated with 1,000 robots applying up to 6,000 spot welds to produce one MINI bodyshell. In some case up to eight robots work on one body simultaneously on three different levels.
The plant employs just over 4,000 Associates which compares to somewhere in the region of 26,000 in back in the middle 60’s and walking around the plant it was noticeable just how few employees there were.
After Body in White we were shown the Final Assembly where every car passes through the final stages of production. All cars are fitted with a transponder, which ensures immediate identification of each car so that it can be tracked through the assembly process.
A new car rolls off the production line every 68 seconds and what is amazing is that there are over 1 Billion different variations because of different specifications, body types, paint colours etc.
Our guides for the plant tour, John Strange and Terry Stringer were incredibly knowledgeable and our thanks go to both of them for providing us with such an informative and interesting visit.
After the tour Fellows and their guests retired to the Oxford Spires Four Pillars hotel for the traditional Thames Valley Luncheon.
Guests were welcomed by Chairman Peter Lewis-Jones, who reflected on the changes that have taken place at Cowley and the MINI plant in particular since the days that he remembered in the middle 60’s.
The MINI has certainly come a long way since the Fellowship’s Past President Tony Ball MBE launched the MINI to the world’s press in August 1959. The Times newspaper reported at the time on the successful launch by saying that the MINI “really can accommodate 4 adults comfortably including the driver wearing a hat” How marketing has changed!
A thoroughly enjoyable and relaxed lunch was enjoyed and Peter Lewis-Jones thanked everyone for coming and reminded Fellows that the next similar visit is to Ginetta Sports Cars in Leeds on Wednesday 19 October 2016