Picture an automotive factory somewhere in the Midlands, building car engines. What comes to mind? Is it dirty, dingy, noisy, hot, chaotic? Are the factory workers much the same?

I suppose it’s possible that some automotive factories still operate like that, but the majority these days are spotless, quiet and highly structured, carrying out their work with precision and skill like enormous operating theatres.

In Wolverhampton, the UK’s newest engine factory is still building up to full capacity, some three years after it opened. It is the Jaguar Land Rover Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC), a £1 billion facility that builds JLR’s latest Ingenium family of engines, and The Car Expert was recently given a guided tour.

With a footprint of about 200,000m2, the EMC is strategically located between JLR’s Halewood, Castle Bromwich and Solihull car manufacturing facilities. This means that the engine factory can minimise delivery times to all of the production sites, which is a good thing as Ingenium engines will be found under the bonnets of nearly every Jaguar and Land Rover model for the next decade and beyond.

As you would expect from a state-of-the-art production facility, there is a high level of automation. More than 170 machines take care of heavy lifting and incredibly precise machining – some of the tolerances are as fine as 0.003mm, which is much less than the width of a human hair. Over 1,000 employees (soon to reach 1,400 as petrol engine production ramps up) work with these machines to produce what will soon be 250,000 Ingenium engines each year.

The EMC is possibly also one of the greenest automotive factories in the country. Atop the vast roof sit more than 21,000 solar panels, which provide up to 30% of the energy needed to run the factory. And during downtime, JLR can sell energy back to the grid.

JLR Engine Manufacturing Centre EMC solar panels
21,000 solar panels provide up to 30% of the factory’s electricity

A vast number of windows in the ceiling, and a 2m-high glass wall that goes almost right around the facility, allow natural sunlight to pour in during the daytime shifts, and the lights are programmed to dim automatically on sunny days to save energy. The windows in the roof can be automatically opened and closed to regulate temperatures on the factory floor.

Careful attention has also been paid to ‘swarf’, the aluminium waste by-products that result from shaving, scraping and polishing millions of engine components. JLR claims that its swarf recovery levels are industry-leading. The swarf is automatically collected up and sold for recycling and re-use, bringing both environmental benefits and a handy sum of money for JLR.

Ingenium – the heart of the tomorrow’s Jaguar and Land Rover models

JLR’s Ingenium is a modular engine design, which can be built in a range of sizes and in both petrol and diesel configurations (and eventually hybrid powerplants as well). The first version of the engine to launch was a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel format, that has been put to use in the Jaguar XE, Jaguar XF, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque models.

Now the first 2.0-litre petrol models are starting to roll along the EMC’s state-of-the-art production lines in Wolverhampton. In the next few months, these engines will start to be fitted to all the models above, and a 300hp high-performance version will also go into the Jaguar F-Type coupé and convertible sports cars.

According to JLR, the petrol versions share about 85% of their parts with the diesel units, which makes life much easier for the factory and its suppliers. The Engine Manufacturing Centre has been carefully set up to ensure that production can be adjusted to cope with shifting customer demand between petrol and diesel engines.

With such high commonality between its petrol and diesel engines, the benefits go beyond production efficiencies. JLR has basically developed two brand-new engine families for not much more than the price of one, and the high commonality also makes life easier for the car designers and engineers at both Jaguar and Land Rover.

Further down the road, there will be a petrol-electric hybrid version of Ingenium, and the modular design means that other engine configurations could join the range. Maybe a 3.0-litre six cylinder model, or a 2.5-litre five-cylinder version? Or even a 1.5-litre three-cylinder plug-in hybrid powertrain for the next generation of models? JLR is obviously not saying anything, but the engine architecture was designed for precisely these sorts of options.

JLR Ingenium engine crankshaft in the Engine Manufacturing Centre

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