Oxford Mini Factory Overview (03:21)
James May visits the Body in White department; he will follow a red, 5 door model along the production line. Kate Humble is in the assembly building, where one car is finished every 68 seconds. Ant Anstead reports from the engineering center, where models are created.
Producing a Mini (02:37)
Custom vehicles are finished in Oxford every 68 seconds. Steel panels are pressed in Swindon, engines manufactured in Birmingham, and parts delivered from 350 supplies worldwide. Four thousand employees keep the plant running 24 hours; learn about production stations.
Body in White (03:04)
May visits an army of "ballerina" robots transforming steel parts into body shells. Tom Bradford manages a team of machines and humans that supply them with panels. Ultrasonic tests, photography, and spot checking verify shape accuracy and welding precision.
Robot Maintenance (02:09)
The Mini factory shuts down periodically for equipment repair. Bradford's team members teach machines how to weld a new car model.
Car Body Production (02:05)
Bradford and May observe 1,000 robots welding steel parts into vehicle shells. Twenty-four Mini models are available for custom orders.
British Lean Auto Production (04:01)
Nissan spearheaded car-making innovations in Sunderland. After Ford's moving assembly line, Toyota pioneered a philosophy of having parts arrive "just in time" to meet efficiency and zero waste goals. May watches employees deliver bumpers to colleagues on the line.
Maximizing Efficiency (03:01)
Nissan's Sunderland plant produces a car every 30 seconds. Robots perform labor, but humans manage the assembly line via computer system, using the Japanese lean production philosophy. May plays with the emergency stop button in the control room.
Feeding the Robots (02:31)
Bradford shows May how assembly line employees supply steel parts to machines welding together a car frame. Sensors prevent them from moving until humans are at a safe distance.
Proof Cube (02:05)
Anstead reports from the quality control room, where car parts are tested against a solid aluminum frame before they are mounted on real cars on the assembly line. Employees scan components for flaws.
A Lasting British Icon (02:12)
Anstead visits the Surrey test track where Minis were launched in 1959. Learn about its fuel efficiency and front wheel drive design innovation.
Racing Minis (02:14)
The Mini became a symbol of the swinging '60s; John Cooper elevated its status on the racetrack. Anstead takes one for a spin. Despite global popularity, the company was sold to BMW in 1994.
BMW's Reinvented Mini (02:45)
Head designer Anders Warming demonstrates how he updated Alex Issigonis' prototype, from sketches to the finished product. He maintained characteristic features like the contrasting roof.
Custom Order Assembly Line System (03:25)
It takes cars nine hours to travel through the Body in White area. Electronic tags enable employees to keep track of custom parts and individual cars on the production line.
Spot Welding Quality Control (02:17)
Bradford demonstrates how robots attach steel plates to create a car frame. Helen uses an ultrasonic test kit to test their soundness. The Mini factory uses the no-fault forward method of checking for flaws before cars leave the assembly line.
Logistics Department (02:20)
Warehouse manager Hannah Crowder helps ensure 6,000 car parts arrive to the assembly line just in time. The "Bob" computer system provides exact delivery times and sequences. The factory relies on a global supplier network adhering to the same philosophy.
Logistics Problem Solving (03:11)
The Oxford Mini Factory assembly line requires parts delivered continuously. Logistics manager Steve Prosser discusses tracking deliveries and overcoming highway traffic jams, ferry strikes, and other delays to keep production going.
Fitting Mini Cockpits (02:02)
Greg Denton and his colleague Peter show Humble how to place dashboards and steering wheels in cars on the assembly line. Employees have to repeat the action every 68 seconds in a choreographed motion.
Bonnet Production (03:30)
Watch robots cut and shape a steel sheet into the Mini's characteristic hood. In the engineering department, a robotic 3D arm scans finished cars for flaws. James' car is eight hours into the assembly line build.
Credits: Making Cars: Episode 1 (00:32)
Credits: Making Cars: Episode 1
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