A new stamping plant opens today (13/12/00) at Land Rover's Solihull site, representing an investment of £60 million $US87 million). The five stage transfer press at the heart of the plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, is to be officially opened by the Duke of Kent.

The plant was completed in just 14 months from initial construction to initial run. The giant press, with a total force of over 8300 tonnes, will produce a peak of 58,000 steel or aluminium panels per week. Die changes can be accomplished inside 10 minutes, an activity taking several hours on older equipment.

A £4 million ($US6 million) try-out press, on which new tools and maintenance work can be carried out, stands alongside the main press, to ensure minimum downtime and disruption in the event of routine maintenance.

The plant will begin pressing panels immediately and will also be used to supply other manufacturers. It will be staffed by around 120 people transferred to the plant from elsewhere on site.

The new stamping plant will be the first of several new facilities due to come on stream over the next year, following the announcement in September of a further £130 million ($US189 million) investment in new plant and equipment at the Solihull site.