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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 14:14 GMT
Land Rover: Views from the factory floor
Range Rover production line in Solihull
Eleven Range Rovers are built each hour
test hello test
By Emma Clark
BBC News Online business reporter
line

In the last of a series of special reports on British manufacturing, BBC News Online talks to employees at Land Rover about the daily grind inside the factory.

Land Rover's plant in Solihull has just launched a new version of its Range Rover model, which hit UK dealerships earlier this month.

The luxury brand has proved fairly resilient to the global economic slowdown and has also benefited from increased investment by new owner, US car company Ford.

Initial sales of the Range Rover are going well, but workers at the plant voice their concerns about the state of UK manufacturing.

Click below to read about their jobs and views on manufacturing.

Neale Jauncey, senior manager

Neale Jauncey describes himself as one of Land Rover's "old boys", having started as an apprentice with Rover Cars 32 years ago.

Neale Jauncey, senior manager, Land Rover
Mr Jauncey is one of the 'old boys'
"I always was going to end up - I believe - in the manufacturing environment," he says.

He turned down a guaranteed job in the post office, where his father worked, to join a brother and two uncles at Rover.

If he had his time again, he would still choose a job in manufacturing, but doubts that his two sons will follow him into the industry.

About 230 managers and engineers report into him.

Routine

0700: Arrives, puts the kettle on and boots up email. He receives about 40 emails a day, which can be "very time-consuming".

He thinks about the day ahead, talks to some of his managers and checks how the night shift has performed.

Neale Jauncey
Age: 48 years
Time served at Land Rover: 32 years
Likes: interaction with people, team leadership and resolving a problem
Dislikes: failure and being responsible for lapse in quality
0730: First meeting of several during the day, where he discusses how to move the business forward.

Next four to five hours: Series of meetings reviewing pressing and stampings, body construction, paint and assembly.

Rest of day: Spent at team meetings, project reviews, people development meetings and communication meetings to look at financial performance.

1830-1900: "On a good day I can be finished by then, and on a not so good day, it can be any time."

Views on manufacturing

Mr Jauncey believes that not being in the euro zone will give Land Rover a problem in the short term.

He is also concerned that the company is being penalised by the strong pound.

"It is a real disadvantage to us which we have to overcome in some way.

"We can source some components elsewhere to help offset it but then unfortunately that puts our immediate UK supply industry at some disadvantage if they are no longer supplying us.

"That is a disconnect for British industry."

(click here to return)

Simon Barker, launch manager for the new Range Rover

Simon Barker has been looking after the launch of the new Range Rover.

Simon Barker, launch manager at Land Rover
Mr Barker is passionate about engineering
He has two passions - cars and engineering.

"The biggest kick is the finished product - when you actually drive one of the products and know that your role has been instrumental in being able to manufacture it."

He spends most of his time assessing quality and efficiency at the plant.

Routine

0700: Reads emails and plans day ahead.

0730: Review of any issues from night shift. Day shift for car production begins (night shift ends at 0645).

0800: Quality review meeting led by senior management where they examine performance and feedback from customers.

"Our whole manufacturing strategy is that we want the associates building the vehicles to be responsible for the quality in their areas," says Mr Barker.

Simon Barker
Age: 28 years
Time served at Land Rover: six years
Likes: taking individual components and making them worth more by putting them together
Dislikes: long hours

"If there was a seat crease and we determined the root cause of that problem was down to the way the associate put the seat into the car and put his tool box in the wrong place - then that associate needs to understand what he's done."

1500: Review of performance metrics. One car is always pulled back as it leaves to the factory gate for a complete audit.

1600-1700: Further management reviews.

1800-1900: Gets back his desk and checks email again before going home.

Views on manufacturing

Mr Barker is very conscious of the problems that British manufacturers face.

"Things are against us in this country - the exchange rate is too high and that gives us a disadvantage in the global market."

Building the new Range Rover
In body shop: six hours
Paint shop: 12 hours
Final assembly: 16 hours
TOTAL time to build car: 24 hours

One car falls off assembly line every 5.46 mins
130,000 cars planned for this year

He also says that there are a shortage of good engineering graduates, partly because manufacturing has a poor image.

"When people ask you what you are doing and you say, 'I am chartered engineer,' you can sometimes see the shutters going up over people's eyes," he says, laughing.

"Manufacturing is probably not as glamorous as working in the IT sector or banking, but we can't rely on our service industry."

(click here to return)

John Smith, team leader

John Smith is an end-of-line team leader in the Range Rover assembly plant.

John Smith
Age: early 30s
Time served at Land Rover: seven years
Likes: career progression at Land Rover
Dislikes: concerns about future of UK manufacturing
He has seven associates in his team and is permanently on call during his shift to help resolve any problems on the line.

Should a major hitch occur, Mr Smith has to decide whether to halt the production line - which is usually avoided at all costs.

"On a good day, it runs itself," he says.

Routine

0730-1600: Works his shift on the assembly line, with two 15-minute breaks during the day, as well as half an hour for lunch.

Range Rover assembly line at Solihull
Mr Smith works on the assembly line
1800-1900: Analyses statistics to measure the performance of his team and checks his email.

He also has to record any problems with the production line and is part of the electrical-testing team to improve efficiency.

The new Range Rover has up to 2,800 different components that need testing and monitoring.

Mr Smith joined Land Rover because of the career opportunities it offered.

Ultimately, he would like to be in an engineering role.

Views on manufacturing

Mr Smith admits that he "constantly worries" about the future of manufacturing in the UK.

"If I was 16 again, I wouldn't go into manufacturing," he adds.

(click here to return)

See also:

07 Mar 02 | Business
Land Rover calls for legal change
28 Feb 02 | Business
What's left of the UK car industry
18 Feb 02 | Business
Land Rover saves Discovery
14 Jan 02 | Business
Threat to Land Rover jobs
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