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United Kingdom
I am a lecturer in English for Academic Purposes at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. I have taught French and Spanish at FE and HE level and worked as a Business Trainer and Teacher Trainer in various countries. I am interested in using technology for teaching.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A trip to the Jaguar factory, Castle Bromwich

Company background Jaguar is owned by a family based consortium from India called TATA group. They have bought up a lot of businesses, including Tetley tea and Corus steel. TATA have changed the fortunes of Jaguar, giving them investment and the freedom to design new cars. Interestingly, the group don't have shareholders and all the money they make goes into a family 'pot'.

On the shop floor The Jaguar plant operates according to the principles of Kanban. This means that they have a central 'marketplace', like an IKEA store, and deliver components on a 'Just in Time' basis. This system, borrowed from Toyota, is a huge improvement on the waste that used to occur due to overproduction and the storage of large quantities of equipment. Deliveries around the factory are outsourced to DHL. A Kaizen, or 'continuous improvement' system is also in place. This means that tasks are compartmentalised and workers are given incentives for ideas to eliminate waste and improve efficiency. 90% of the assembly of the chassis is done by (Japanese and Swiss/Swedish) robots. At the finishing stage though (panel beating and door fitting) most of the work is done by skilled technicians. This is because problems may be different on each car and special tools may need to be designed to fix them. One big difference made by technology is that workers no longer need to do heavy lifting, for exampleof wheels or doors, due to 'assisted lifting' by robots. According to the guides, who used to work on in the factory, the finished car is ready to drive away, whereas in the past, 20 or 30 people would be crowded around it, fixing problems that were not detected until the end of the production process. The plant can produce around 70 luxury cars a day, though for some more popular models the turnaround time is faster. there is a waiting list of 6 weeks to 1 year, depending on the model. This is because rather than being mass produced, cars are now made to order.

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