JLR plant is good news for all
The announcement of the investment was marked by a visit to the company’s Solihull vehicle production plant by Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills.
The announcement by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) that it is going to build a new £355m advanced engine manufacturing plant in Staffordshire is marvellous news for all – including subcontractors and their customers.
Not only will it bring new jobs in the plant itself and in the supply chain, it will bring new technologies and skills to the supply base in the West Midlands and the UK as a whole.
As JLR CEO Dr Ralf Speth has emphasised, this is part of a long-term strategy for the business to design, engineer and manufacture a completely new family of advanced low-emission, 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.
Says Dr Speth: “As we invest £1.5bn a year for the next five years on new product developments, expanding our engine range will help us realise the full global potential of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.”
The potential rewards will cascade down the JLR supply chain, but it is not just those businesses directly involved that will share in this. All customers for subcontract manufacturing services will be able to benefit from an enhanced supply chain with new skills that is at the leading edge of low carbon technology.
To understand some of the implications of the announcement for subcontractors and their customers, Engineering Capacity asked Simon Griffiths, chief executive of the Manufacturing Advisory Service – West Midlands, for his take on the news.
As he explained: “It’s superb news for JLR, its supply chain and the UK as a whole, but particularly the West Midlands from the subcontracting point of view. JLR announced 780 jobs within its own factory and we think that will have a knock-on effect of at least 2,000 jobs in the supply chain – so, a significant addition to the current supply base.”
He added that it is going to drive some significant changes in low carbon engine production – and pointed to the thinking behind the C-X16 concept car – a vehicle that combines electric and internal combustion technology to give class-leading performance with emissions of just 165g of CO2/km.
“If the electric side of the power train gets involved in the engine plant, then that has to drive significant improvements.
“The base engine is going to be very similar, but obviously optimised to reduce carbon outputs,” says Mr Griffiths. “But there are going to be significant control requirements alongside that to optimise the petrol and diesel going into the engine and minimise the exhausts.”
This will create the need for new skills in the supply chain, particularly in the area where traditional mechanical engineering meets electrical engineering and electronics – a change that has already happened in the engineering teams at the OEMs.
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