Business GCSE / National 5: Logistics, stock control and car manufacturing

James May visits the BMW Mini factory in Cowley, Oxford to investigate how the 'just-in-time' method of stock control is used in car production.

Over 6,000 components go into making each Mini. Logistics manager Hannah Crowder explains that over 500,000 parts move through the Cowley warehouse every day.

A computer named Bob is used to pick parts, with tow trains then hauling boxes of components to the production line. A wall map shows the global supply chain, with parts sourced from across the globe.

Some parts have just one hour’s worth of stock on the Cowley site. For instance, the iconic front end of the car is made in Banbury and must arrive on time and in exactly the right order.

Any delays halt production in Oxford incurring significant costs. James talks with Logistics General Manager Steve Prosser about how the business manages unexpected events such as road closures on the local M40, preventing the delivery of bumpers from Banbury.

IT systems monitor traffic speeds on delivery routes, with real-time transport data then used to calculate stock levels, stock depletion rates and the predicted time of stock out. Channel tunnel closures set real challenges for logistics and helicopters may fly in parts if necessary.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 4

This short film could be used to introduce the idea of stock control methods, just in case buffer stocks and just-in-time. Students might investigate the source of parts used in the production of goods made by factories in their local area, or nearby. Potential topics of discussion include the extent to which warehouses are needed to avoid the risk of stock out.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE (KS4) / National 5 business.

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The challenge of launching a new café
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Robots and automation in car manufacture
The rise and fall of Sunny Delight
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