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16 February 2017

DT Trip to Morgan and Jaguar

At the start of February our DT department visited two car manufacturers with the Sixth Form students. Focusing on manufacturing scales of production, they visited Morgan Motors at the Pickersleigh Road site and Jaguar Land Rover at its Castle Bromwich site.

Morgan cars have been hand-built since 1914, and make on average 1300 cars a year. Students were able to see, first-hand, the manufacturing process of a Morgan car from start to finish, and were fascinated to see traditional wood making skills in action.

Morgans are expertly crafted using three core elements: ash, aluminum and leather. The chassis has the engine, gearbox and the electrical items fitted, then handcrafted, lightweight, ash frames are added, acting as the structure from which the exterior aluminum body panels and interior leatherwork are hung. The cars are then spray painted in airtight booths to ensure that the paintwork is free of imperfections, and finally the trim shop takes over, hand-sewing the leathers for the seating, adding the ash dashboards that are vacuum-formed with walnut veneers – a process that takes the craftsman over thirty hours to complete.

It was an impressive tour and it was particularly interesting to see that while there was an assembly line of sorts, it was not highly automated; it was about skilled craftspeople each doing a highly skilled job.

Britain’s largest car manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, was a complete contrast to the smaller-scale Morgan site. The plant at Castle Bromwich is the company’s largest site, producing an average of 400,000 Land Rovers and 80,000 Jaguars each year.

The huge site had originally been the Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory and had been the largest aircraft production plant in wartime Britain; it was the main manufacturing source of the two most successful British aircraft types of the war – the Supermarine Spitfire and the Avro Lancaster.

The students were keen to see the contrasting manufacturing techniques that Jaguar use. The main difference was that, although there were people at each stage of the process, there were also robots; 80% of a Jaguar XJ’s body is constructed by over 100 hi-tech robots working in synchronisation. As the group walked along the assembly line they followed the constantly moving and evolving vehicles, watching the chassis being added to, firstly the engines, then electrics, dashboards, windows, seating, and doors. At the end of the line each finished vehicle was ready to be driven for testing. The students learnt that Jaguar use a continuous flow system of production based on a ‘just-in-time’ approach. It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit, seeing highly-automated car manufacturing at its best.

Although it was a long day, everyone enjoyed the two contrasting guided-tours. We hope that the students have a better understanding about scales of production and will be able to apply this to their exams in the Summer Term.

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