Monday, 24 March 2014

Trip to the Jaguar Land Rover Plant

Aekta is a Master Student in Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Sheffield and she, along with other members of the Women in Engineering Student Society visited Jaguar Land Rover Plant.

It was a bright, sunny morning on 4th March and thank heavens for that! The last thing any of us would have wanted was for the weather to dampen both the skies and our spirits.

I had signed up to the Women in Engineering Student Society at the beginning of the year. A society that represented the disproportionately low numbers of women and encouraged more women to take up a career in engineering sounded appealing and I had always intended to go to one of their meetings but never found the time or the inclination – that is until I saw an email titled “Trip to the Jaguar-Land Rover plant”. They had me at the subject line itself!

I have been a car aficionado for as long as I can remember, in fact, one day I hope to have enough money to buy a Range Rover (a decision I am deliberating over ever since I saw the jaguar F-type manufactured). After an hour and half, we arrived at the Castle Bromwich assembly plant of Jaguar. I was taken aback! Their plant was colossal, almost the size of Manchester Airport! (A quick Google search revealed that the plant covered a massive 1.6 million square feet).

We were taken into a seating area where we were shown a small presentation on how the operations of the company have progressed over the years and all the cars they manufactured. We were also shown some of the swanky custom made vehicles they have made for the rich and the famous. My personal favourite was the Land Rover Evoque that they did for Victoria Beckham, complete with gold leaf on the tyre rims and oak wood panelling on the insides.

After a subsequent question and answer session, we wore high visibility vests and we were ready for the plant tour (no pictures were allowed once inside the plant)! We were divided into two groups and we each had a tour guide. Ours was a nice, retired chap who had spent a large part of his working life at Jaguar and knew the ins and outs of the company well. We were shown around the entire workings of the plant, right from how they fit the engines to the final painting process. Unlike other large car manufacturers, Jaguar only starts assembling a car once an order has been placed at any one of their retailers across the globe. The customer picks almost all of the parts that go into their car. This means that no two Jaguar cars are effectively the same. Unsurprisingly, most orders for the F-type Jaguar (the most extravagant of the lot) came from China.

Walking around the factory really gave me an insight into how cars are brought to life. Rarely do we imagine how many processes, people and parts are involved in building a safe, comfortable ride. Jaguar has collaborated with some world renowned companies to really ensure a satisfying customer experience. For instance, their engines are made by Ford, their wheels by Pirelli.

This trip was not only informative but also a whole lot of fun! I am never going to look at a car the same way again. Each time I now look at a vehicle I am going to know and appreciate the amount of hard work, care, concern and engineering that has been put into its making.

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