The new Range Rover manufacturing facilities at the Solihull site
represent GBP 70 million of the GBP 300 million investment in this new
vehicle. The main areas of investment on site are:-
Trim & Final Assembly
BODY IN WHITE
The vehicle first begins to take shape in the all new Body in White
(BIW) facility, a 6,600 square metre dedicated area within the East
Works plant. Here the sub assemblies that make up the monocoque and
the body panels come together on a new framing line before progressing
via a final body line to the paint shop.
The new Range Rover BIW plant is more compact than the existing lines
as the body parts arrive at the plant as larger sub assemblies and the
framing line is completely automated.
The new Range Rover BIW facility employs a total 130 employees and has
a current base capacity of 16 body shells per hour and represents a
GBP 15 million investment.
The 260 body panels that make up the body shell are supplied by Rover
Body and Pressings at the Swindon plant. They are delivered as
individual panels, with the exception of the bonnet which arrives
complete, and some other panels are delivered complete with weld nuts
The body framing facility consists of 14 sub assembly zones where
panels are jigged and welded manually to create the main constituents
of the body frame:-
This body framing sub assembly zone uses 120 jigs and over 140 welding
The sub assemblies then move on to the main framing line where they
pass through nine stations. The body is automatically jigged using
pins and clamps and 60 welds are applied. The cycle time for this
operation is 3.3 minutes per body.
The body then progresses to the main robot weld station where two
robots apply 264 welds. These two robots effectively do the job of
six by automatically changing their welding heads three times during
the process cycle.
The body frame finally passes to the manual finish weld stage where
those welds that are not accessible by robot are completed.
The doors and tailgate frames are assembled using 31 jigs and 23
welding guns prior to passing through six power clinches when the
aluminum skin is joined to the assembly.
The completed body frame assemblies then pass along the final line
where doors, bonnets, wings, and tailgates are fitted and set to the
correct clearances. The final operation in BIW is a cosmetic
inspection under high intensity lighting before the completed body
shell passes via a lift into the paint shop.
Over GBP 3 million has been invested in upgrading the existing Paint
Shop. The facility is one of the largest in the UK and is situated on
three floors of a self contained unit. Body shells are stored on the
ground floor where they are sequenced for processing. The main paint
process takes place on the first floor and the stoving ovens are on
the top floor.
All ancillary equipment and plant not directly involved in the process
is kept isolated in the interests of fume, contamination and dust
control. The result is the best possible working environment for
operators to aid them in their task of striving to obtain the optimum
The company took advantage of holiday shut down periods to install a
number of new facilities including:-
Colour application machine
Surface distribution system
Other facilities were uprated or relocated to make better use of the
existing facility such as the electrostatic application and the sealer
line. The Buy Off line has been extended and the lighting improved to
enhance quality control.
The first stage of progress through the paint process is the corrosion
protection provided by a zinc phosphate conversion, applied in an
eight stage spray process. The combination of steel and aluminum
used in the production of all Land Rover products demands a high
degree of specialized expertise in chemical processes gained through
over a quarter of a century.
Corrosion protection is further enhanced by PVC seam sealing and
underbody coating being carried out prior to primer surfacer paint
application by high voltage electrostatic equipment.
The final colour coat is also applied by high voltage electrostatic
equipment. The various paint finishes require special formulation to
cope with the demand of sometimes vigorous off road use.
The new Range Rover gets additional stone chip treatment to vulnerable
TRIM AND FINAL ASSEMBLY
Painted body shells are delivered to the sequencing area at the
beginning of the new Trim and Final assembly line in North Works.
Body shells are loaded onto the line in strict order to ensure they
meet with the correct trim and engine. Before the vehicles are
entered onto the production line they are fitted with protective
panels to safeguard against accidental damage to the paint finish
during the assembly process.
After the body shell is entered onto the line, the doors are removed.
They travel round their own assembly line where glass, winder motors,
speakers and trim are fitted. They then rejoin the vehicle towards
the end of the assembly line sequence.
The trim and final assembly is divided into two main production lines,
a chassis build area and line-side sub assembly build and test areas.
The first main production line is the Body Line and after the doors
have been removed the main tasks of this zone include sun roof
fitment, under body assembly work, glazing and installation of the
fascia and other electrical wiring.
The engine, transmission, axles, suspension and fuel tank are put
together in the chassis build area, the end of which joins the other
main production line, the Mount Line. This is where body, chassis,
engine and transmission come together for the first time and is the
beginning of the final assembly process.
On this final line the seating is fitted, the vehicle has coolant and
brake fluids added and the bumpers, doors and wheels are assembled
onto the vehicle. At the end of this line, fuel is put into the
vehicle and it is driven off the line to go through a series of tests
and calibrations which include a rolling road, water and electrical
testing and calibration of electronic air suspension and steering.
The Trim and Final Assembly line is a completely re-facilitated 35,000
square metre assembly hall, developed at a cost of over GBP 13
Although the production line uses only one robot station - the glazing
cell - this new line features power assisted machinery to make light
work of lifting and locating heavy items such as doors, wheels, sun
roofs, seating and fascias.
The facility has also been designed to eliminate the need for
excessive stretching and bending to allow operators to concentrate
more on the quality of the tasks which they perform.
One of the only facilities that Land Rover does not have on site is a
foundry. All other work to produce the V8 engines, R380 gearboxes,
differentials and axles is carried out at Solihull.
All machining, heat treatment, assembly and testing takes place on
site. The Power Train business unit employs 4,000 people at Solihull
and, in order to keep Land Rover Vehicles production supplied, works
both day and night shifts.
Major enhancements to the engine build plant in North Works include
new crank and con rod machine lines and a number of multi-spindle nut
runner and torque units are used on cylinder head, con rod joint, main
bearing caps and sump pan assembly.
The new 4.0 litre and 4.6 litre V8 engines are built on Automatic
Guided Vehicles that move from station to station following magnetic
coils embedded in the floor of the building. On completion all units
are sent for testing before being mated with a gearbox.
The R380 gearbox now fitted to all manual vehicles is produced at a
new facility employing over 100 people in South Works. The gearboxes
are built on a production line and every unit is tested before being
mated with the transfer box and then the engine before being shipped
to the final assembly lines. Development and installation of this new
facility which started production in the Spring of 1994 totalled over
GBP 8 million.
Front and rear differentials and axles are assembled next to the
gearbox and transfer box lines in South Works.
Land Rover's greatest asset is its employees. The new vehicle and
production facility has provided the opportunity to develop the
principles of openness, empowerment, improvement and personal
development that were laid down in the Rover Tomorrow package.
The first people to work in the new facility were the team leaders who
were trained to carry out all the assembly operations in either final
assembly or Body in White. By obtaining a wide degree of knowledge
and flexibility they became the natural leaders of the cells when
people were recruited for the main build.
The team leaders also developed the framework of the new culture and
working practices, known as CONQUER that are accepted by all who work
on the new Range Rover.
As the Trim and Final assembly and Body in White areas were both to
start with a completely new facility the opportunity was taken to
enlist the involvement of everyone operating in the new plant. Every
detail, from the layout of the machinery to the colour of the walls,
was agreed by all in the area.
The most significant development, however, was the drawing up of a
series of principles of conduct for all members of the team - CONQUER-
No second best
Recognizing that flexibility is an important factor in the new
culture, even the above principles are constantly open to question and
The results of these practices are obvious to all who visit the area.
For example, in the interests of safety and quality, jewelry such as
rings and wrist watches have to be covered at all times.
Meal breaks are taken in the designated rest areas which are also used
by office staff and management. All employees are responsible for
maintaining these areas to a high standard of hygiene.
The total range of skills necessary to support the tasks of a cell are
carried out within that cell. For example, pallets are now on wheels
so that they can be moved by hand, but some operators will be trained
to use the new electric tugs, eliminating the need to wait for a fork
lift truck when more materials are needed track side.
Employees have also committed themselves to personal principles such
as helping colleagues, honest communication, recognition, and allowing
time for humor and enjoyment.