PDQMINI to Visit the MINI Production Triangle

Have you ever thought about what it took to make your MINI come to life?  How many parts go into your car; how many workers it took to personalize it just for you?  What did your MINI see before the two of you saw each other?  Have you ever wanted to visit the birthplace of your car or even pick up your new baby from the MINI birthing center?  Well one of our very own is going to the birthplace of the MINI!  PDQMINI is off to England in late March to visit the Triangle!  Rob will be posting to his Facebook account and allowing all of us to live vicariously through his adventure, so watch this site for links to QDQMINI’s Excellent Adventure to the Homeland.  To set the stage, just a bit of introductory information is presented as follows:

BMW’s 2nd generation R56 MINI Cooper is produced in what is called the MINI production triangle. There are now three plants involved in the production of the new MINI and they are located in what appears to be three points of a triangle on a map. The top of the triangle is the Hams Hall plant, with the right leg of the triangle being the Oxford plant and the left leg being the Swindon plant.
The Ham’s Hall plant builds the engines; Plant Swindon is where the body pressing and sub-assembly manufacturing is done. and Plant Oxford is the body shell, paint shop and final assembly plant.  Body pressings at Ham’s Hall  grew from the bonnets, doors, side panels and rear panels, to now include all the body shell sub-assembly work, of which after completion is delivered to Plant Oxford where final assembly is done. The Swindon plant makes 280 of the 350 different pressed parts for the R56 MINI Cooper.
 Plant Oxford, where the MINI Cooper is actually put together and tested, consists of a mixture of robotics and hand assembly. The plant works in 3 shifts, 20 hours a day, which means there are 2 hour breaks in between shifts. Shift times can be adjusted within 25% ranges of each other.
The final assembly plant is capable of producing MINI Coopers in an extremely vast amount of configurations – the possible variations are said to be in the thousands of trillions!  For starters, there are the 4 body types pf the Cooper, which are left hand drive with sunroof, left hand drive without sunroof, right hand drive with sunroof, and right hand drive without sunroof. Then you also have two engine options. Multiply all of that with all the other customisation features – 372 for interior and 319 for exterior – and the number gets very high.  MINIs are built to order, and once you’ve ordered your MINI, you can actually still change your configuration within 7 days of the day the car is expected to roll off the production line.
In 2006, the MINI Production Triangle employed 6,350 people, which was expected to increase to nearly 6,800 people when production was hiked to 240,000 cars a year from 200,000 cars a year in 2006.  Hams Hall employed about 1000 people, about 4,700 were employed in Oxford and 1,100 in Swindon. The location of suppliers is also crucial, several suppliers have actually moved operations to within an hour of the plants they are supplying to, as MINI production is very time crucial – orders always exceed production capacity.   (From an article written in 2006)


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