2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 05:39
The BMW Group continues to focus on short growth with the Mini. For this purpose, the work processes at the production site in Oxford were optimized. In total, the company has invested £ 200 million.
By Frank Mertens
The Mini is a success story for the BMW Group. Since the iconic small car first rolled off the production line in Oxford, England in 2001, it has sold more than 800,000 vehicles worldwide. A success that one is particularly pleased about: Norbert Reithofer, the new CEO of BMW.
First appearance by Reithofer
Reithofer, at that time still in his function as Chief Production Officer, gave the go-ahead for the new generation of the Mini together with the British Finance Minister Gordon Brown, who was in office in 2001. Now, five years later, it was Reithofer and Brown again who initiated the start of production of the second mini-generation on Wednesday in the central English university town.
“I can remember external estimates of 100,000 vehicles sold per year. 100,000 - that is exactly the number of vehicles that we sold in the first half of 2006,”said Reithofer with satisfaction at his first official appearance as the new BMW boss. The manager took up his post as successor to Helmut Panke on September 1st.
The second mini generation should be in no way inferior to its predecessor in terms of sales figures. With the new Mini, which will be available on the German market from November 18, the Bavarians who are spoiled for success want new ones
Set record marks. In the medium term, the production capacity is to be increased from the current 200,000 to 240,000 units. In order to achieve this goal, the BMW Group has optimized its production processes. To this end, a production network was set up with three plants in Oxford (assembly), Hams Hall (engine production) and Swindon (press and body parts). A total of £ 200 million has been invested in this so-called “Production Triangle”.
Optimization of work processes
One of the most important measures for optimizing work processes is engine production. Up to now, the BMW Group has sourced the engines from Brazil, now production takes place entirely in Hams Hall. For the customer, the changeover in engine production means greater flexibility when ordering the vehicle. Up until now, the units have taken up to 30 days to be shipped. Now you can respond to buyers much faster. "You have the option of communicating change requests up to seven days before the start of production, for example with a view to the desired engine", said Harald Krüger, head of the Hams Hall plant.
At the market launch in autumn, the Mini will be offered with two engines: the 1.6 liter naturally aspirated engine with 88 kW / 120 PS and the 128 kW / 170 PS turbo engine in the Mini Cooper S. A basic engine is also expected in the first half of the coming year come with 1.4 liter displacement and 70 kW / 95 PS.
Growing number of employees
Mini currently employs a total of 6350 people in the three plants. The number is expected to increase by another 450 employees when full production capacity is reached. The plant managers can fall back on an extremely flexible shift model. It enables those responsible to have minis produced for up to seven days or 140 hours, depending on demand. If you consider that there are 168 hours in the week, the belts almost never stand still. At present, 42 vehicles an hour roll off the assembly line in Oxford. With full capacity utilization it should be more than 46.
How well-engineered the production is is also shown by the fact that the Mini alone has “372 different combination options for the interior and 319 different variants for the exterior”, as Anton Heiss, the plant manager in Oxford, said. “It is therefore extremely unlikely that two completely identical Minis will leave the factory in one day,” says Heiss.
The interlinking of the three factories results in significant cost savings. For example, the pressed parts and components from the factory in Swindon are delivered to Oxford “just in time”, and intermediate storage is no longer necessary. If the worst comes to the worst, the required parts can be delivered in just four hours after the call. This logistics concept gives customers a high degree of flexibility for changes. As with the engines, other orders can be changed up to a week before the start of assembly. Customers will appreciate it. The Mini is just a cult - and this will in all likelihood also be reflected in further increasing sales figures.
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