This from the MINI United blog. Full audio to follow.
Todd drove all that way from London to Oxford. We never got lost, missed a turn or anything! It was awesome.
Upon arriving in Oxford, the spotted the MINI Plant straight away. Well, not so much a plant as a facility, with many buildings on the grounds, performing a myriad of duties. But there was only one building we were interested in, and that’s where they build the MINIs!
We met Becky at the front entrance who got us our badges. We then followed her to the factory building. At this point we were giving the spiffy black lab coats and asked to cover our jewelery. We chatted for a few minutes before being met by NIgel who would conduct our tour.
Something that we weren’t expecting for this tour was the ability to take pictures. I was under the impression that the factory was strictly off-limits to cameras, but then again we did have journalist passes and they said it was ok to take pictures.
The tour lasted at least an hour, with Nigel showing us how everything worked in great detail. I was amazed at how clean everything was, and quiet! All of the tools that are used in this section of the factory are electric, either DC or battery powered. There are only a few departments were air tools are used, but not in this building. Also, all of the robots and overhead trolleys were self powered, instead of getting power from one main source. And each of those machines was extremely quiet.
Another thing that was interesting was the build process itself. Each MINI is individually built with parts that were created or assembled specifically for each car. Doors, wheels, windscreens and even electrical harnesses were all clearly marked and bar-coded with their intended vehicles build number.
Each car is scanned in at each station as well as a check, and again at the end of the line for a final quality check. At that point, they are making sure that each car has the correct options. As you would expect, the drivers and passenger door are one of the last items installed to allow easy access to the interior. The final piece of the MINI that is installed, even after they put in all of the fluids, is the door glass. After that, it’s a touch of Petrol, a final quality check and if the MINI passes, off to await transportation.
Once we finished the tour, we got the drive around the facility tour before meeting with the Head of Quality and the Communications director for a little more Q&A. The energy and level of commitment that they had, that everyone we met had, was infectious! It’s no wonder the MINI is as great a car as it is. The people were amazing.
We’ve finally made it to Amsterdam! Already checked out the MINI United site and started setting up a bit. The whole thing starts today so it should be very exciting!
Check back for completely audio of the tour later. You can see all of the pictures from the tour here