On Friday, the whole office took a trip down to Cowley for a guided tour of BMW’s cutting edge MINI plant. I say we were expecting cutting edge but it soon became apparent our ideas of cutting edge in car manufacture were a bit out of date. At our very first stop, the body shop, rather than the hundreds of workers assisted by a handful of robotic arms we had expected, the entire factory floor was mechanised with 1000 robot arms serviced by a workforce of just 90.
Their effortless relentless lightning quick precision was simply amazing to watch. All of this could have been quite depressing – foreshadowing a future in which human labour is replaced entirely by machines but in fact this incredible high-tech has been accompanied by a huge increase in the size of the workforce. check broken links People play a crucial part in large sections of the process further down the line – the perfect balance of human and robot workforce delivering the highest productivity in the whole of BMW’s worldwide empire. And given that statistic, perhaps the most amazing thing we saw that day was how that has been achieved with what seems to be a relaxed and happy workforce. A rather different business to architectural visualisation but in it’s use of cutting edge tech with a creative workforce it was inspiring.