I have a soft spot for the Mini. It was my first car!
So when I got the opportunity to tour the Oxford factory where they are assembled, I jumped at the chance.
A factory industry is a system, with inputs, processes and outputs.
At Oxford the cars are assembled – all the components have already been made and are here put together to produce the car.
The components are inputs to the factory. The engines are made in Birmingham, while a factory in Swindon makes the doors, the body panels and does some sub-assembly, putting smaller parts together so that they are already ready to go onto the car when they arrive at Oxford.
Components are delivered to Oxford by truck. Stock is carefully controlled so that the right things are in the right places at the right time. 200 truck deliveries per day keep the assembly line supplied.
Other inputs are less obvious, but anything that is essential to production counts as an input – labour (about 4000 workers), machinery (1000 robots, plus conveyors and other equipment), electric power (from solar panels on the roof, which also supply 850 houses), the buildings themselves and the money that has been invested to set up the factory.
As for the outputs, a new Mini rolls off the end of the production line every 67 seconds. Up to 1000 cars are produced per day and 80% are sold overseas in 110 different countries. A branch from the railway comes directly into the factory and 2 trains per day are loaded with new cars and sent to the port of Southampton for onward shipment.
Other outputs include profit and maybe some waste.
But what actually happens at the Oxford factory? What are the processes? I’ll tell you more about that next week.
Meanwhile check your inbox for a worksheet to use with this post.