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Interesting article from The Guardian (although the main focus of the article is Brexit).

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/03/brexit-uk-car-industry-mini-britain-eu
To me this embodies what a miracle of modern life is the act of buying a MINI (or pretty much any advanced product nowadays).

Sitting in my underwear before a computer, I design my car on a website that allows hundreds of options. I can see what the car will look like from two different angles and from the inside.

I send the design to a local MINI dealer, and they enter a production order into their system. Instantaneously that order is transmitted across the globe, to multiple destinations. Manufacturers from every level of the food chain are notified and spring into action, each scheduling production orders, acquiring raw materials, and building parts.

Meanwhile, logistics players are receiving bills of lading and scheduling pickup and delivery. When the parts are ready, a truck or train or airplane is ready to whisk the parts hundreds or thousands of miles away to a factory. At the factory, 30,000 pieces are staged in precise order for my car, a single unique machine assembled in sequence with seven hundred other unique machines, of a variety of configurations, on the same assembly line.

When the car is finished, it emerges from the factory and is soon loaded onto a truck, or onto a train. Transport to the destination country has been previously arranged and within a day or two the car is being loaded onto a ship.

This ship is an amazing, highly specialized creature called a Roll-on/roll-off (RORO). The logistics company has designed and built the ship just for this purpose, and the ship has just arrived after a voyage across the ocean, spanning thousands of miles.

My car and thousands of its siblings are driven onto the ship in a specific order so that they can be unloaded in the order that the ship will visit ports. My car is parked in the darkest, furthest recesses of the RORO, because the voyage will end at Port Hueneme in California, and there are cars and trucks that will need to be unloaded at Baltimore MD and Manzanillo, PA first. There is a genius somewhere making sure this is done correctly.

There are ports all over the globe that send and receive products and raw materials. A constant flow of ships arrive and depart these ports, loading and unloading cargo in a frenzied choreography of commerce. My car is one of millions of things carried upon the ships and embarked/disembarked at the ports. Trucks and railcars are the interstices between the oceangoing fleet and the cities and towns that will receive the product. And somehow, this is all coordinated, money changes hands, and the products arrive safely at their destinations.

(Somewhere, every morning, a person wakes up and prepares for a day where his whole purpose in life is making sure something happens so that I will receive the vehicle I designed in my underwear from across the globe. Thousands of somebodies, from the woman affixing the timing chain to the engine block, to the guy running the diesel engine on the RORO vessel, to the accountant paying for the sheet metal at the factory, to the train operator, to my poor MINI guy fielding dumb questions for 3 months. Mind boggling).

The logistical ballet that gets a car to your garage is insane and awesome. Ordering two MINIs has been a wonder for me-- I have learned so much about how cars are made (factory videos!), how the worldwide shipping system functions, how the Panama Freaking Canal works. What a miraculous interconnected world we live in. It is a good time to be alive.
 

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Agreed its amazing!the mini plant oxford works so close to ' just in tme' that they monitor traffic flow for parts deliveries on the roafds used and can instantly redirect if theres a hold up. VERY regular in the uk!
 
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I worked for a BMW-MINI supplier in the early R50 days; another result of JIT supply not generally understood is that it also improves quality and is not only about saving stock sitting idle in warehouses.

With no excess stock in the supply chain there is extra emphasis in ensuring parts are right as any mistakes have immediate effects. Also any rejected parts are minimised so reworks are eliminated. or improvements are implimented sooner. As a supplier you really work a lot closer to the car manufacturer compared to decades past.
 

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I am awed by the logistical choreography that gets precisely the right parts to exactly the right place in the assembly line at the correct time. JIT is awesome just as a concept, but when you have so many parts and subassemblies, it's amazing.
 

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Well I thought Hams Hall manufactured the engine complete then sent to Oxford for MINI's of course some are exported to BMW for their models plus Countryman..
 
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