A massive expansion of the Hams Hall BMW engine plant has secured the long-term future of the key facility and led to a huge increase in apprentice recruitment.
BMW this week announced that upgrades at the plant, near Birmingham, will mean it is now a state-of-the-art facility capable of producing its next generation of engines.
Production will be ramped up in a move which secures the Warwickshire factory’s long-term future.
The car-maker has completed a multi-million pound investment programme to create new facilities at the site, which will double the manufacture of components and see an engine produced every minute.
BMW say the investment will ensure Hams Hall continues to be a state-of-the-art facility capable of producing its next generation of engines.
The move also sees investment in a skilled workforce for the future, with BMW tripling the number of the apprentices at the plant, near Coleshill, which employs around 1,000 people.
Hams Hall makes three and four-cylinder engines for BMW and MINI vehicles but the latest investment, part of a £750 million programme across the German car-maker’s UK sites, sees engine components being manufactured to supply to other plants in the group for the first time.
Engines, as well as machined components manufactured at BMW Plant Hams Hall, contribute to a range of cars across BMW Group’s product portfolio.
This includes MINI – including the new Clubman which goes on sale in a few weeks’ time – as well as the new BMW 7 Series, also launched this month.
Plant director Markus Fallböhmer said: “The transformation in our plant has been huge. Over the last few years we have completely re-developed our two main production areas and installed over 600 brand-new pieces of equipment and machinery.
“While a high level of technology and automation ensures our plant remains a state-of-the-art facility, the ergonomics of the workstations where we have more manual input have been carefully thought through and adjusted to suit each individual member of the team.
“A large investment has also been made in our workforce via a number of training programmes and opportunities for people to upskill and take on new job roles.
“We have changed the make-up of our workforce as well with over 100 people securing BMW contracts, some of whom were previously working for us on a temporary basis.
“Looking further ahead to the future, we have trebled the number of apprentices training with us to ensure we have a strong, skilled workforce for many years to come.”
BMW say development of the site represents “another piece of the jigsaw” of its global strategy for engine production.
Hams Hall is now operating alongside other plants in Germany and Austria, all producing the same new family of next generation engines.
Ilka Horstmeier, who heads up BMW Group’s global production network for engines and electrified powertrain, said: “Our new engine family of highly efficient three, four and six-cylinder engines have a standard design, a high number of similar parts and a uniform process for manufacture.
“This gives us a large amount of flexibility and means we can optimise production between each of our manufacturing locations and respond quickly to changes in customer demand or market developments.
“The investment in Hams Hall has enabled the plant to grow and play an ever-increasingly important role in the production of these latest engines.”
Hams Hall also plays a crucial role in one of BMW’s most important cars in recent years, its plug-in hybrid sports car the i8.
Although production of the hand-built 1.5-litre petrol engines which power the i8 is small-scale, the powerplant has already contributed to a series of award-wins for the vehicle as well as two class and an overall win at the International Engine of the Year awards.
More than 3.5 million engines have been produced at Hams Hall since it opened in 2001 and BMW say the plant directly supports the jobs of around 1,000 local people.
It is one of 30 production facilities owned by BMW in 14 different countries.