About our site.
How We Build Our Cars
Our Environmental Management System
Environmental Communication
Looking after Water
Our Waste Management Systems
The Benefits of Using Rail Distribution
Remembering Our Neighbours

The Longbridge manufacturing site has been building vehicles since 1906 when Lord Austin produced the first Austin Phaeton 25/30.

Since then the site has expanded to cover over 400 acres. It includes body assembly building, two paintshops and a car assembly building. There are also a wide variety of ancillary buildings and processes that support the manufacturing areas. These include a railway complex, office buildings, a design centre, car parks etc. The site is, effectively, like a small town.

The company has had a variety of owners since the days of Lord Austin. These have included British Leyland, a working partnership with Honda and, latterly, the ‘Rover Group’ who were owned by BMW. However, MG Rover Group is now an independent British company, and all our employees are stakeholders due to our recent share allocation scheme.

Since the first Austin car left the factory in 1906, 14 million vehicles have followed. Over 5.3 million Minis were built at Longbridge between 1959 and the end of 2000 when production stopped.

During the war years, Longbridge diverted activities towards providing defence and support equipment for the military to help protect the country. This took the form of armaments, aircraft and support vehicles.

Indeed, HRH Queen Elizabeth II drove a Longbridge-built ambulance in London during her service time in the war.

Much has changed in the past 95 years and no doubt more change will occur as the company continues to develop.

However, part of the benefit of our site history is the demonstration of a continual commitment to protect the environment.

About Our Site

The Longbridge site is located approximately 11 kilometres south-west of Birmingham City centre and is situated about 5 kilometres from both the M42 and M5 motorways. The site has a direct rail link to one of the main lines feeding Birmingham, and is accessible by road from the A38.

Rural farmland and housing developments surround the plant with a site of special scientific interest just two kilometres to our east.

We are very careful to respect our neighbours on all environmental issues and we respond with diligence to any concerns that may arise.

To the east of the site is a foundry and engine manufacturing plant operated by Powertrain Ltd, a subsidiary of Phoenix Venture Holdings.

How We Build Our Cars

The process of car manufacture starts with the pressing: 350 to 400 pressed steel body panels and a number of minor sub-assemblies are delivered by train from Swindon Pressings, directly into the Body Assembly Building. Only a limited number of parts are delivered by road.

The car body begins to take shape as the panels are welded together to create major sub-assemblies such as the floor pan, body sides and the roof.

These larger assemblies are brought together on the framing line to form the recognisable body of the car.

The car then undergoes the final welding process.

During the manufacture some 4,000 to 5,000 individual spot welds are made to each car body; robots apply most of these. The remaining skin assemblies such as doors, the boot lid and the bonnet are bolted to the body shell to complete the process. The car body is then checked and sent to the painting process.

The painting process is broken down into three phases: the application of anti-corrosion, the priming of the shell and the final painting and finishing.

The anti-corrosion operation pre-treats the metal body to prepare it for priming, and to apply an anti-corrosion protective coating. Initially, a water-based detergent is sprayed over the body to remove any dirt, oils or film that may have formed. There is then a phosphating process that applies a corrosion-resistant crystalline coating of zinc phosphate; this coating also serves the adhesion of primer.

The priming phase involves four coatings: and electro-deposition primer coating; a sealant; an anti-chip coating; and the prim-surface coating.

The application of these coatings provides additional corrosion and wear protection, and gives a good adhesion for the final paint coats. The final phase in the coating process is the application of the colour and clear coats to the car body.

The primary colour coat, called the basecoat, provides the basic colour to the car, and the clearcoat protects the basecoat from mechanical, chemical or biological attack. It also gives the car its high gloss finish appearance.

The final assembly process completes the car. This involves a diverse range of parts and components that are manufactured all over the world.

The painted body shell enters the Car Assembly Building and the process begins.

Initially, the car’s electrical harnesses and various interior items are fitted. This is followed by much of the under body parts such as the exhaust system. The glazing is fitted along with the engine, steering and suspension systems and the wheels.

The final interior fitting is then undertaken, e.g. fitting the seats, steering wheel etc

Once completed, fluids such as brake and steering fluid and anti-freeze are added, and a limited amount of fuel is put into the fuel tank.

The car is ready to be started and driven onto a rolling road for a functional test.

The car undergoes a water test and passed to final inspection before it is passed to dispatch.

Our Environmental Management System

In 1996, the Longbridge site was certified to the BS7750 standard under the Rover Group, and was the first UK car manufacturer to receive the standard.

MG Rover Group has continued with this certification and is now certified to the more International Standard ISO 14001 "Environmental Management Systems", by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

The VCA makes routine visits to audit our standards, processes and management arrangements to ensure we implement the requirements of the standard.

We, as a business, are also credited under ISO9001 "Quality Management Systems" and have an integrated system to ensure that the necessary procedures are in place.

Our quality team carries out regular internal audits to assess the implementation of the procedures across the organisation and reports are circulated at Board level.

MG Rover Group have launched a new Environmental Policy Statement. This was issued to all our managers with a four-page brief that explained more about their role and responsibilities towards the environment.

Managers were then able to cascade this information to employees under their control.

Each of the company directors has a clearly defined set of responsibilities on environmental issues, as defined in our environmental policy.

This clear division enables plans and targets to be developed by each of the directors and their functions to ensure that the correct degree of focus is maintained for reaching our environmental goals.

Once generated, these plans and targets are reviewed as part of our normal business planning process.

In addition, to help support the implementation of the policy on a day-to-day basis, local experts are strategically positioned throughout the business to address all issues.

These range from vehicle design and manufacturing to the interface with our suppliers on waste management and disposal.

Looking into the future, MG Rover Group are signatories to the Automotive Sector Sustainability Environmental Report. This involves reporting to the Trade Association with performance data on environmental, social and training issues.

Environmental Communication

Part of the key to managing and maintaining a good environmental performance is to ensure that there is a clear, effective and continuous communication.

This needs to be both from the top down and from the bottom up. Good communication needs to engage everyone from shop floor to the boardroom.

We use various methods to get the message across including team talks, newsletters and mail-shots reminding our employees of their responsibilities and explaining how the business is moving forward.

Looking After Water

Using water wisely not only saves money, but reduces the demand on a valuable resource. By careful water management and the use of efficient water recycling we can reduce our demand on this resource.

Water Discharge

The site is located on a watershed dividing the United Kingdom. Our drainage either flows to the west coast via the River Arrow or to the east coast by the River Rea. More locally, we are situated about two kilometres from a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and about one kilometre from a commercial trout farm on the River Arrow.

To protect our off-site receptors, we have a series of interceptors that capture suspended solids and surface oils to prevent them entering the water system, e.g. dusts from our internal roads that are washed away during heavy rain- storms.

Although we have controls in place to limit our discharges to water, we must maintain our vigilance. In the event of an incident, we have trained personnel within our Company Protection Services to standby to mitigate any further spread. The rivers running through our site are monitored 24 hours a day to check for any possible pollution.

We are authorised under the Environmental Protection Act to make certain discharges into prescribed waters. These discharges are carefully monitored by ourselves, Severn Trent Water and the Environmental Agency to ensure we operate well within the consent limits.

The site is geologically located on coarse-grained Kidderminster sandstone. This is typically water-bearing strata and therefore the consequences of ground pollution are very serious. Such pollution can cause long-term damage and migrates with the underground water flow. We therefore, have very controlled measures to prevent ingress to the valuable underground water resources.

Water Consumption

Car manufacturing processes are, traditionally, heavy water users. Water is used for cooling of welders; it is used on the paint process and the water test bays. Each process utilises this valuable resources and needs careful management.

To reduce our water consumption, we have implemented many water minimisation schemes covering both the clean water supply and our waste water discharges. For example: a particular success has been in the paint shops where our consumption of water has dropped by over 40 per cent in a 10-year period due to the introduction of process changes and improved water recycling.

Finally, the site is positioned at the foot of the Lickey Hills. These act as a water catchment area and subsequent run-off can be massive.

To help manage the potential for flooding, we have built on site a rain water retention and balancing system to divert and hold water. This can then be released in a controlled manner to protect our neighbours downstream in the event of heavy rain or a flash flood.

Protecting The Air We Breathe

We all need air, air that is clean and free of pollutants that could affect our health and well-being. We have all read about greenhouse gasses, the depletion of the ozone layer, the problems of vehicle emissions in our town and cities. Here are some examples of what Rover Group is doing to protect the air we breathe.

How are we reducing our carbon dioxide emissions?

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a by-product of all fossil fuel based energy using systems, and is a major contributor to global warming.

We are continuing with a well respected energy management programme that began on the site in the 1970s when a number of energy conservation measures were pursued in our manufacturing areas.

In 1996, a huge investment was made to install a gas-fired power station on site in the form of a combined heat and power (CHP) plant.

This has resulted in much cleaner energy production with reduced levels of CO2 emissions, and fewer particulates, e.g. carbon smuts. The CHP plant has a highly efficient combustion process and, using careful management, continues to deliver these reductions. Since 1991, we have reduced our energy consumption per manufactured car by over 20 per cent.

As a company, we have embraced the principles of protecting the climate for future generations and in November 2000 we signed up to the negotiated agreement between the Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders and the UK Government and part of "Climate Change Levy". This commitment will continue to drive reductions in our energy consumption and, consequently, emissions to the atmosphere. We have agreed to achieve a further five per cent reduction in energy use between now and 2010. These longer-term plans will come about with improvements in our processes and changes in technologies.

As a company, we are authorised under the Environmental Protection Act by the Environmental Agency to make certain CO2 emissions to atmosphere. We operate within our consent limited, and we monitor to check our compliance.

What else are we doing to protect air we breathe?

Our paint processes, as with other vehicle manufacturer, produce a certain amount of volatile organic compounds (VCOs) as part of the waste stream, and these are emitted to atmosphere. VOCs can react with sunlight to produce low-level ozone.

We are constantly working at reducing the VCO emission from our processes. This is achieved by reviewing and improving the paint spraying efficiencies, i.e. reducing the actual amount of paint used on each car, by using a high solid content paint and using water based paints.

These, combined with improving the paint system cleaning techniques, have seen major benefits.

We are authorised by Birmingham City Council to discharge a certain level of VCOs to the atmosphere, and over the past 10 years we have reduced our paint shop emissions by over 60 per cent. A good achievement in itself, but one that will continue.

What about the cars, don’t they cause pollution?

As indicated earlier, by burning any fossil fuel there is the potential for pollution. MG Rover Group manufactures both petrol and diesel variants, and all our engines must meet stringent EC and global exhaust gas emission standards.

Such control requires precise engine management and control of the combustion cycle, it also relies on a good engine design, e.g. cylinders designed for efficient combustion, and the use of lightweight metals for rapid engine warm-up, and the after treatment of the exhaust gases, eg by catalytic converters.

We use ‘fuel efficient clean burn engines’ with technologies that include electronic injection mapping, fuel flow modelling for optimum induction and the careful design of combustion chamber.

Although the use of any vehicle can have potential environmental impact, we are striving to continually improve the performance of our cars, and reduce their impact during use. The fuel consumption of our cars has improved by over 17 per cent in the past 15 years, and catalytic converters deliver up to a 90 per cent reduction in emissions.

Looking into the future, MG Rover Group will be fully warranting a compress natural gas fuelled vehicle. This will take our customers one step further towards being able to select a product that reduces the environment impact.

Our Waste Management Systems

Wherever possible, we continue to use our management processes to reduce waste at source, and to adopt and exploit innovative waste management techniques. The amount of waste we produce has reduced by approximately 30 per cent over the past 10 years. This has largely been due to reduced packaging used on components from our suppliers, and improvements in the painting process. We continually work in collaboration with our suppliers to design and use, where possible, returnable containers.

For example: the Rover 75 produces almost zero packaging waste, a very commendable result when you consider the range and origin of the many components used on a modern motor car.

Where possible we re-use packaging and we have arranged to re-use some of the incoming plastic caps protecting the engine pipes etc during transit.

Also, in line with the Government drive on recycling, our designers are specifying which parts can be made from recycled plastic in vehicle components.

Unfortunately, some waste is unavoidable. We have a policy of segregating this material and this is supported by our recycling centre where we segregate waste into cardboard, paper, polythene, plastic caps and metals. Where the waste is not recyclable our preferred disposal route is incineration with energy recovery, again in line with Government guidelines.

When wastes have to be sent for disposal, we use only licensed contractors who are approved to handle the relevant type of waste.

What are we doing to ensure that our vehicles can be disposed of to reduce their environmental impact?

We are doing several things. Firstly, we design and build our vehicles to ensure that with correct servicing and maintenance they will provide years of safe and efficient motoring.

However, all vehicles will eventually need to be disposed of and we are continually improving the recyclability of our cars during design.

In order to achieve this goal, we have implemented an integrated approach to vehicle design.

During design, we consider the disposability aspect at the ‘end-of-life’ of the vehicle to ensure that it does not become an environmental liability. This entails ensuring that the materials used are not hazardous and that they are easily recycled.

For example, the Rover 75 is over 85 percent recyclable, and is well in advance of future legislative requirements. The lessons we have gained will be applied to future models.

A significant proportion of the environmental impact of vehicle manufacture occurs in the making of components by suppliers.

We made a decision to continue with a previous policy of working in partnership with our suppliers to assess and encourage environmental improvements to help reduce the overall environmental impact of the vehicle manufacture.

The Benefits of Using Rail Distribution

We operate and manage our own railway complex on the Longbridge site. Most of our steel body panels are received by rail. The use of rail has several immediate benefits in reducing our impact on the environment, both locally and nationally.

Rail use is more energy efficient in terms of fuel consumption, it reduces the number of lorries on the road with the consequential noise, congestion and fumes.

We have the same policy for the distribution of our finished vehicles. At present around 40 per cent of our finished cars are transported by rail to our export markets.

Remembering Our Neighbours

We must not forget our neighbours, they are important to us.

Our nearest neighbours share our site boundary, and we are therefore keenly aware of our responsibilities towards them. The potential for noise, dust and fumes from our operations are all potential causes of concern with our neighbours.

We have robust procedures in place to deal with any concern that they may raise. We are aware of our heritage and the goodwill that our neighbours have entrusted to us, and we respond to any concern with diligence and openness.

We have a positive relationship with our neighbours which, has come about by proactively communications on matters that could affect them.