When a finished Jaguar design makes it to the production line, the quality checks remain just as obsessive.
In the Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC), all the elements of our Ingenium engines are tested repeatedly through the production and build – a process called ‘no faults forward’. “We set ourselves the challenge of making the EMC the best engine plant in the world, in terms of quality” says Daniel Buckley, Ingenium Programme Manager. “For example if we find a problem, the engine doesn’t go into a separate off-line rework process. Instead, it is taken off the production line, stripped down to the required level and then reintroduced to the line at an earlier station. This ensures that an engine never bypasses the extensive quality systems and controls of the production line to maintain the highest level of quality."
Major components are stamped with a unique QR barcode to trace their build date and location, and are measured by laser to ensure accuracy to three microns, or 0.003mm – 6 percent of the thickness of a human hair. Random samples are also tested by hand, in a controlled 20ºC laboratory environment for total precision of the carefully calibrated tools.
Before any engines leave the EMC, they are tested on specially designed rigs. First, a ‘cold test’, in which components are rotated for 72 seconds without igniting the engine. Then the engine is brought to life with a ‘hot test’, where it is ignited and goes through a 240-second cycle, at speeds up to 3,000rpm.
Finally, engines are taken off the line at random and go through a full dynamometer test, in which they are run flat-out at 240km/h for 300 hours or 72,400 kilometres.
At our vehicle production lines in Solihull and Castle Bromwich, freshly pressed aluminium panels are examined under a light box for any blemishes and faults. As the chassis is assembled, cutting-edge lasers and cameras carry out a 168-point quality check, while panel gaps are checked with hand-held gauges. “Some car makers aim for +/-3mm tolerance, but our aim is +/-0.5mm,” says Arthur Richards, Production Supervisor at Castle Bromwich. “It’s what gives a Jaguar its look and feel of quality craftsmanship.”
At the end of the assembly process, the chassis is treated with a clear varnish and examined under UV light. Any minor blemishes are marked, and addressed by hand.
Painting the chassis is a 24-hour process. First, it goes through a series of 13 cleaning, conditioning and rinsing tanks, as well as an advanced electro-coating process, to ensure a reliable adhesion between the aluminium and paint. The chassis is cleaned with emu feather brushes. “Emu feathers can be easily charged with static electricity, which makes them great for picking up dust,” says Nigel Williams, Paint Area Manager. “And because the feathers have a large surface area, they provide a lot of coverage. We wouldn’t use them if they didn’t work so well, because – to be honest – they are very expensive.”