The paper aims to describe how BMW in the UK has increased the number of industrial robots at Plant Oxford in the UK; this plant is part of a production “triangle” that brings together three of its four manufacturing plants in the UK to produce the latest version of the Mini passenger car – the Mini Clubman.
The paper describes the major production line techniques that are used in the manufacture of the body‐in‐white (BIW) structure as well as the functions of painting and final assembly of the vehicle. The BIW techniques include spot‐welding and ultrasonic weld inspection for parts assembly.
Over the space of the last three or four years, the management of BMW Group has increased significantly the stature of its UK manufacturing units with the aim of increasing the diversity of models produced, while at the same time achieving greater utilization of its existing capacity, and improving productivity.
The BMW Group continually assesses all of the functions involved in the manufacture of a motor vehicle, and in this context is working both with its own plants and with suppliers of equipment and components to enhance production and quality processes. This includes all of the processes of joining steel and other materials using spot welding and adhesives. There is also much to be gained from the interchange of information between the various plants in the group world‐wide with a view to implementing continuous improvement. The benefits achieved from one process in one particular plant are quickly communicated to other facilities, again with the object of improving quality and productivity. A typical example here is the paint shop.
It is likely that, arising out of greater plant integration and utilization, the management of BMW Group will be able to further increase the capacity of its Mini production units to be in a position to move to the next stage of expansion, namely to reach a target of 300,000 units a year.
BMW continues to rationalise its UK plants in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall, further integrating these production facilities with those of major component suppliers to produce a finished vehicle. There is a heavy concentration of KUKA robots within the BIW and sub‐assembly manufacturing facilities.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited