MINI Plant in Oxford, UK
The new MINI is being manufactured on one of the world's most modern and advanced production systems at the BMW Group plant at Oxford - the result of a £230 million investment programme at the factory.
MINI Stars in "The Italian Job"
MINI, the 2003 North American Car of the Year, will join a stellar cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Donald Sutherland, in Paramount Pictures’ film, “The Italian Job,” opening nationwide May 30th.
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BMW Oxford Plant : Body Shop
BODY-IN-WHITE: The MINI takes shape in the Body-in-White facility, where £120 million has been spent in entirely renewing and expanding the body-build facilities to 40,000 square metres for the increased levels of volume and automation.
The indicative torsional rigidity is about 24,500Nm/degree - which means that a twisting force of 24,500 Newtons has to be applied to the body to flex it through one degree. This is some 2-3 times stronger than competing models.
For the customer this means that the car has an extremely strong platform for precise and consistent suspension geometry, contributing to precise and predictable handling; minimal body flex means freedom from squeaks and rattles and reduced road and powertrain vibrations.
Such a rigid structure also ensures accurate panel fitment and is the basis of an extremely strong and resistant passenger compartment around which energy-absorbing zones can be created for excellent crash protection.
The body-build process is highly automated, with 229 Kuka robots accounting for 80 per cent of all robotics and the remaining 20 per cent being sourced from in-house toolmakers within BMW Group. The spotwelding is 100 per cent automated.
The body is built with a strong framework formed first with the front end, rear-end, floor and side structures being brought together, followed by the roof, tonneau side panels, doors and bonnet. High strength steels provide increased strength and energy absorption without a weight penalty. Laser- welded "blanks" of different thicknesses of metal within one pressing are used during the process to provide precise areas of extra strength and to spread the forces more evenly throughout the bodyshell.
The KISS information system begins in the Body in White facility, both for quality monitoring and for production control and sequencing. Laser inspection is carried out by "Perceptron" cameras at key points of the build process to check the build integrity during manufacture on-line and also quality sampling off-line. These procedures ensure that no problems are carried forward into the next phase of production.
At this point the completed body structure is conveyed via a body store to the paint plant.
photos: Automotive Intelligence