Aston Martin’s St Athan manufacturing unit in South Wales all set for the DBX
The 90-acre former Ministry of Defence website has been remodeled since Aston Martin obtained the keys in 2016, with the three tremendous hangers now housing a state-of-the-art automotive manufacturing unit, described by Aston CEO Andy Palmer as “the world’s first beyond-lean manufacturing facility.”
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The fantastically coiffured driveway, as effectively saved because the one on the model’s HQ in Gaydon, Warwickshire, leads as much as an opulent new entrance that does a grand job of hiding the plant’s navy roots. The signal above the door proudly proclaims Aston Martin Lagonda, a reminder that the brand new all-electric luxurious offshoot can even be producing its vehicles right here alongside Aston Martin’s DBX.
Workplaces and a employees restaurant are additionally located on the entrance of the constructing, with views throughout the Vale of Glamorgan, however the house within the hangers behind have been used to accommodate a manufacturing line that may finally produce 5,000 DBXs a 12 months, plus as much as 2,000 Lagondas.
At the moment in about three or 4 years time, employees numbers will likely be boosted to round 1,000 – up from the 750 that will likely be producing DBXs this time subsequent 12 months and offering a great addition to the realm with Ford’s engine plant set to shut in 2020.
We begin our tour of the plant within the furthest hanger – though you’d be laborious pushed to know its origins; Aston has fitted a mezzanine ground to offer extra manufacturing house.
“If we had been doing this wherever else, we’d produce a flat plant,” says Scott Ward, Aston Martin’s Director of Manufacturing at St Athan tells us, “However there are huge advantages to the peak of this constructing, not least the large hanger doorways, which made it simple to get the equipment inside.”
The parallel manufacturing strains are acquainted to anybody who’s been round a automotive manufacturing unit earlier than, however the brand new gear and refurbished hangers are so clear all of it appears like a contemporary kitchen as a lot as a contemporary automotive plant.
And cleanliness is vital to keep away from any imperfections in a luxurious automotive manufacturing unit, beginning the place the bonded aluminium physique construction is glued collectively. The DBX makes use of classes discovered from the DB11 and shares that automotive’s Subsequent Era Structure however, for instance, there are 13 per cent fewer elements on DBX than DB11 when the automotive is 60 per cent bigger by quantity.
As soon as recongnisable bodyshells emerge – having been checked at each stage alongside the way in which – they transfer into the three-storey paint store within the subsequent hanger. Right here robots put together and spray the vehicles, though the flexibility at hand spray continues to be an choice for particular finishes.
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In addition to the acquainted manufacturing unit robots, St Athan additionally makes use of Automated Guided Automobiles across the plant – one other enchancment over the Gaydon plant – whereas the hangers’ unique hall operating down the centre has been retained. “It helps with logistics,” we’re informed.
The third hanger is used for ultimate trim and meeting with the vehicles being carried on large rigs alongside the manufacturing line and up and down additional new ranges put into the large house. Then it’s on to additional, meticulous high quality management and out onto St Athan’s take a look at monitor the place each automotive is pushed over quite a lot of surfaces and at velocity to verify that every thing works because it ought to and to disclose any squeaks and rattles.
New stage in DBX improvement
St Athan has been declared by Palmer as Aston’s “Dwelling of electrification” and there’s house to develop that aspect of manufacturing, though Lagondas will likely be constructed alongside DBXs on the identical line.
And it’s on the finish of the manufacturing line that one of many first St Athan constructed DBXs, carrying pink camouflage, sits. Like all DBXs, it’ll characteristic the acquainted AMG-sourced V8 beneath the bonnet – hybridisation comes later, in keeping with Palmer – however whereas earlier fashions wore yellow camo, this automotive’s color is vital.
“The yellow vehicles had been for what we’ll name underbody checks,” Palmer says. “That half is full – now we’re transferring on to higher physique testing.’
St Athan will remodel Aston Martin as a enterprise and helps to finish Palmer’s plan of seven new fashions in seven years. It’ll see the corporate double its present output from simply over 7,000 vehicles this 12 months to nearer to 14,000 by 2023. That has all types of results, not least on the seller community, which has additionally gone by a metamorphosis. “The seller in Milan has needed to be re-sited as they couldn’t get DBX by the door,” Palmer reveals.
DBX with out the camouflage is ready to be revealed to the world – in South Wales, in fact – on the finish of the 12 months, though potential clients are prone to see the automotive from this summer time.
Then manufacturing ramps up in St Athan over an eight-week interval from April subsequent 12 months earlier than the primary vehicles attain their homeowners. So what can they anticipate? Palmer tells us: “DBX will likely be stunning, handcrafted and opulent. It’ll be the SUV that thinks it’s a sports activities automotive, however that you would be able to drive on a regular basis. And it’ll be specced to match your life-style.”
When you fancy one, you’ll be paying comparable cash to Bentley Bentayga or Lamborghini Urus clients – we’d hazard a guess at round £150,000. For that you simply’ll get the latest luxurious sports activities SUV on the block with what we’re informed is extra space inside than in a Porsche Cayenne.
And it’ll be inbuilt Wales – and we haven’t been capable of say that a few automotive like this earlier than.
Would you choose the Aston Martin DBX over the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus? Tell us beneath…