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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got back from a tour of the assembly plant at JLR Solihull.

Saw the Velar and F-Pace production from start to finish. Amazing that they are made simultaneously along the exact same production lines throughout. They're basically made from the same base and the gazillion robots that work in one model one way and the other another way, one after another when putting the panels together.

From the front to about 60% along the base, it's made of aluminium and thereafter the back end is steel. Apparently this gives the perfect weight balance.

They're making about 75 cars an hour which are a mixture of Velars and F-Paces. The factory works from Mon-Fri, 6 til 6 so someone can do the math on that to work out here many they're building daily/weekly.

It takes 3 days to complete the Velar from start to finish, a day assembly and 2 days checking/QC/finishing, etc. One of the the final assembly lines where the doors, boots, lettering, etc. are fitted have Velars, F-Paces and RR Sports all running through together. The operatives are all trained to assemble these different vehicles without any change in line set up. All parts were brought up in totes and they were obsessed about cleanliness, dust protection and contamination.

I've been to many factories in my life, mostly in Asia where there is a huge amount of manual labour, but this was the first car assembly plant. The robotics were awesome - reminded me of the "loader" in Aliens.... unfortunately, a slightly tomboyish but still sexy voice didn't shout "Where d'yu wannit?" suggestively when the panels were moved!!!!

I still shouted "Bay 12 please..." though!

I saw some comments on here claiming the factory was chaos with parts and packaging strewn all over place. I have to say from my experience this is completely Fake News!!! The plant was spotless, highly organised with heaps of automation for the initial construction stage with aircraft manufacturing rivert placing technology adopted for ultimate precision and countless cameras deployed to spot tooling wear and tear. Health and safety was apparent throughout the plant.

Their robots were introduced around 2010 but you get the feeling they have only mastered their use more recently such was their excitement at the continuity and accuracy of their output and recognition of effiency gains and cost savings.

In a classic Tory bashing Labour claim, they have actually increased employment since the robots have been deployed, not decreased. That backed up by their impressive sales growth which is partly down to the huge improvement in quality that the automation has helped bring about. There are approx 10,500 workers at Solihull, 2,500 of which handle the logistics and 8,000 doing the assembly.

There were process diagrams and schematics outlining their objectives and productivity targets written all over the walls with above eye level monitors providing visibility of production progress all the way along.

Some really nice touches in terms of highlighting to the operatives the importance of their work and the collective output that they are all working towards.

They keep next to no stock at the plant and no actual manufacturing takes place. It's all about precision assembly and JIT parts being brought in around the clock, which include things like doors and bumpers that arrive at the factory in a 6-8 hour window. We saw lorry loads with Velar doors and dashboards being brought in. Many JIT OEMs make and store parts in facilities around Solihull.

Morale at the plant looked extremely high, you can tell the sense of pride in the work being done and the enthusiasm in producing such an exciting new car.

Another thing I noticed on here were comments about the lining up of closures such as the boot and doors - here they were applying a laser checking systemwhich measures the gaps in between the closures to ensure they were set correctly. There were operatives applying wands by hand a bit like an airport Customs official checks you body for metal objects.

No beeps when we were there!!!

After the tour we had a drive around to see some finished stock. We passed an area called the "squeaks and rattles" car park where vehicles are driven over various road terrain to check any problems in the cabin.

Then we had a look at the stock waiting to get on transporters - quite a few of which were destined for overseas as they were LHDs.

Overall, it's an extremely impressive set up and it made me feel rather proud to be putting my commitment into a British designed product made with pride and built by British, European and many other nationalities that make up the workforce.

Just the two centres we walked around cost £1.2bn investment which apparently Tata have been very happy to provide.

I'm not surprised when you see there sales figures. They sold 840,000 cars last year and their target is to surpass 1 million within the next year. Jaguar sales alone grew by 68% last year, largely due to the XE and F-Pace models.

Finally, I spent much of my time looking at all the different colours to hopefully reaffirm my decision in ordering Indus Silver with a Black Roof....

I wasn't disappointed!

Roll on delivery I say.
 

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Great write-up, thanks for taking the time.

As the owner of a German car 'Macan' with Brexit, buying British is very much on my mind when I come to change my car, seems with the Velar there is no better time to buy British, a car to be proud of... I'm in!
 

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Excellent write up.
 

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what a great write up, thanks for sharing!
 

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Of course it has a future. MINI, Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lotus, McLaren, and others....you guys make the coolest cars!

I realize all but McLaren are owned by a foreign entity, but at least they're still designed and manufactured there.
 

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Fingers crossed then. An interesting article, thank you.
So, thankfully, they must have cleared up all the mess, discarded packaging etc that my group experienced when I had the tour, and which so depressed all of us who saw it. Sadly not fake news that day!
Oh, and I'm sure Lookers of Battersea, in London, have now returned the white RR Velar they had in the showroom two weeks ago because the hatch close-line on that one (admitted the embarrassed head of sales) was nowhere near true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Lancer,

It must be that you visited another part of the plant to us then as the areas where we went didn't have any packaging. All parts were in plastic and metal totes and bins.

The areas were set up with dust prevention so There was no cardboard or plastic packaging involved - that type of packaging might involve small parts perhaps fitted after the assembly?

Re the issue as the dealer. Sounds like they would be embarrassed for sure about that.

On a similar note to your tailgate experience , I pointed out to a dealer in Slough a few weeks ago that their demo had an iffy rear console where the air con controls are as it wasn't mounded properly around the raised floor and they advised that the model in their showroom was not a production model but a prototype that had been moved around the country to various events and dealerships. The production models they said would go through much more vigorous checking and be subject to final finishing.

I wasn't sure if they were fudging the issue but I have noticed on viewing more recent models on line that the rear centre console did mound around the floor properly.
 

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It was the end of the main production line just before the car rolls off into the waiting area. Saw parts of the tailgate being put together, or at least finished off. Boxes (and the trash from them) were full of light fittings I recall; I did try to get hold of one of the other members of my group to confirm but with no luck, sorry.

We all agreed the part of the facility we saw looked totally Heath Robinson compared to the production lines in Germany which I and others had experienced. Ive picked up cars from Stuttgart (Porsche x 4 and one MB ....and 2 BMWs in Munich over the years). Perhaps you have no idea how much more advanced those facilities are....have you visited them?

Or, this suddenly occurs to me, perhaps you are a covert JLR employee? lol. Just kidding.

Either way I read today we are in for a wonderful new product - soon to be delivered in early September (after I've test driven one beforehand and confirmed I like it!) - after some excellent reviews. I'm mildly surprised at myself, being not a true believer like you yet, that Im going to own my third LR. The first was a totally awful brand new 1992 Discovery, sold on quickly, and the second a wonderful tin-box Defender which I taught the children to drive in. The best one though, better be the third! We shall see!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hah! I have shares in Tata Group!!!! 😱

I'm pretty sure that we were at the same place in the plant. I've not been to any German car plants so you are far more qualified than I am on the subject.

I do know warehouse operations as logistics is the industry I work in and I've visited dozens of factories over the years with customers like Asda and Sainsbury's who are obsessed with how they are run and issues like packaging waste and poorly run operations . I just didn't see any mess or chaos and compared to any warehouse facility or factory I've seen, it was extremely clean and tidy despite being full throttle on production.

It did make me think how BMW or Audi would put together their cars and when I asked how JLR compares in their processes, our guide was rather sheepish about how others operate. It struck me as a bit naive to say that he didn't know how their processes would differ in any way. I would have thought that they would employ people who had set up or managed plants for other car manufacturers. That's how retail works anyhow.

Alas, the cat's out of the bag now as the journalists have all had their test drives and put their reviews up on line.

It seems like the consensus is that it's a very good car. Some comments about not being great but then there are others saying it is. Most of the criticism appears to be centred around the quality of the plastic materials in the cabin - which appears to be the centre console area which actually is quite poor when I compare it with my Q7 - and the unforgiving ride on the 21 and 22inch wheels. I'll have to judge that for myself as I'm test driving tomorrow. My Q7 has 21s and they are fine around my part of London.

I totally get your reservation based previous experience - I had a 2010 XKR which was a pile of wank inside the cabin but great outside and under the bonnet. I also had a 2015 F-Type which again was amazing under the bonnet and great to look at but the ride was just too hard on the roads around here and it didn't suit for daily driving. Plus my wife fell pregnant 2 weeks after I picked it up so I very quickly converted to a Q5 which didn't impress me either (boring) and was promptly swapped for a Q7 which is a great car in many ways but even more boring....

I'd value the comments on here with regards to any criticism as people appear to be quite willing to speak with open mindedness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Lancer,

Forget everything I said about JLR... I've just seen an ad on TV with a bloody great black horse galloping through their factory.... you were right, total chaos!!!
 
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