Thursday, 19 June 2014

Disco Sport demands 250 new jobs

Over 250 new jobs have been created as Land Rover’s Discovery Sport is the latest model to be produced at JaguarLandRover's Halewood plant.

The additional jobs announced to support Jaguar Land Rover's newest model will see the Halewood workforce reach 4,750 - more than treble the number employed there in 2010.

JLR chief executive officer Dr. Ralf Speth, said: "The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the next in a line of exciting new products to come from JaguarLandRover. I am delighted that Halewood - and Liverpool - has been selected for this new investment. It is totally deserved, and strengthens the 'special relationship' that bonds Jaguar Land Rover to this great city."

The Halewood plant, already home to the company's fastest selling model – the Range Rover Evoque – has benefited from a £200 million investment to support the introduction of the first member of the all-new Land Rover Discovery family.

This takes the total amount invested in Halewood over the last four years to almost £500 million.

This newsletter has already reported significant investment at Halewood in new stamping facilities, as well as similar equipment at the Castle Bromwich plant, both using new press lines from Japan in an unprecedented move by the company to upgrade its stamping capability in both steel and aluminium.

Thus, in addition to a £45 million state-of-the-art Aida servo press line installed in March of this year, JLR has installed 260 new automated robots fitted with anit-collision devices, industry-leading laser welding facilitates and a number of state-of-the-art equipment monitoring and reporting systems to support an unrelenting focus on quality.

A similar £45 million state-of-the-art Aida servo press line is being installed at Castle Bromwich.


ABB, the Swedish power and automation group, supplied the new robots for the Disco Sport installation. ABB is no stranger to Land Rover, or indeed the wider JLR business. It is JLR’s preferred robot supplier.

In 2006, ABB proudly announced it would supply over 200 of its IRB 6600 and its heavyweight counterpart the IRB 7600, to support the build of what was then the “Next Generation Land Rover Freelander”, which went into production at the Halewood plant that year.

The then new Freelander programme marked a turning point for the vehicle builder from its traditional (World War 2) home at Solihull, West Midlands, to the Halewood, Merseyside, plant, which is probably best known as the manufacturing centre for the Jaguar X-Type, but was better home for many years as the home of Ford Motor Company’s Merseyside manufacturing passenger car outpost. Since those far-off day the plant has been transformed in every way.

ABB also supplied IRB 6400R and IRB 7600 robots to support production of the then Land Rover Discovery 3 and Range Rover Sport at the Solihull manufacturing facility.

Some 226 new robots were then supplied to Halewood, which complemented a string of 24 refurbished IRB 6000 robots relocated from the Solihull plant. All the robots were used for spot welding and mechanical handling applications. Even before those days, ABB was no stranger to Land Rover.

For many years ABB has used Milton Keynes as its robot base and many of its machines to be found in Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich body-in-white (BIW) facility and its nearby press shop.

Now, at Halewood, in the BIW area for the new Disco Sport, in most cases one firm builds or supplies one cell, with Le Control, Comau or Kuka being among them. However, ThyssenKrupp (which likewise has supplied BIW equipment to Castle Bromwich) built the majority of cells with Kuka GmbH of Augsburg, Germany supplying the important body framing line.

Kuka is itself a major robot supplier but within JLR ABB is ‘the chosen one’ from the viewpoint of robots.


The Discovery Sport goes on sale in 2015. It will be the most versatile and capable vehicle in the compact SUV segment, according to the company.

It is the first member of an all-new family of Discovery vehicles, inspired by the Discovery Vision Concept which was spectacularly showcased at the New York International Auto Show.

Richard Else, Jaguar Land Rover Halewood Operations Director, said: "I am delighted to be welcoming the new Land Rover Discovery Sport to Halewood. Its arrival has been a further boost to the region and to our committed and loyal workforce who are all passionate ambassadors for this great company.

"In many ways, Halewood has embodied the transformation of Jaguar Land Rover. We have seen our work force treble and production quadruple in just four years. Today we are operating three shifts, 24-hours a day to meet global demand and I am confident that the team will rise to the challenge and deliver a flawless launch of this exciting new model."

The arrival of this exciting new vehicle at Halewood has doubled investment in the plant since 2010.

Halewood became home to JLR's top-selling Range Rover Evoque in 2011. Within two years the plant had produced over 200,000 vehicles, a record volume for a single vehicle line at any JLR facility.

Today the Range Rover Evoque continues to attract new customers to the Land Rover brand. Sales in May were up 12 per cent year-on-year with more than 80 per cent of production destined for export to 170 global markets.

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