ISMR June 2022 - Page 16

INDUSTRY NEWS

Lotus Chapman Production Centre .
Lotus officially opened its new sports car manufacturing facility at Hethel , UK , on 4 May 2022 naming it in honour of the company ’ s founder and inspiration . The Chapman Production Centre is already building the Emira , the last petrol-powered car from Lotus .
The ceremony was carried out by Matt Windle , managing director of Lotus Cars , and Clive Chapman , managing director of Classic Team Lotus and the son of Colin Chapman and Hazel Chapman , co-founders of Lotus . Also attending was Jane Payton , Clive ’ s sister , plus several hundred Lotus employees .
Together with Lotus Advanced Structures ( LAS ), Lotus ’ new sub-assembly facility in Norwich , the Chapman Production Centre is part of a £ 100 million investment by Lotus in the UK . It is also an investment in the skills and passion of the Lotus team , which has more than doubled since 2017 when Geely became the majority shareholder .
Lotus has recruited new staff across all areas of the business including skilled manufacturing operatives , engineers and technicians . In vehicle assembly and production operations specifically , 300 new staff have joined the company . Through the new Lotus Learning Academy , based at LAS , all recruits have been trained in the manufacturing operations they need to begin their career at Lotus .
The new Chapman Production Centre is one of the most advanced low-volume automotive manufacturing facilities in the world and has the capacity to build around 5,000 cars a year . The new paint shop uses automation to apply primer , colour and clearcoat , ensuring a highquality finish , high throughput of vehicles and repeatability .
“ The new Lotus system is highly efficient : dry filtration uses 60 % less energy than a

Lotus opens new sports car manufacturing facility

wet system , while an electrostatic primer on body panels will reduce paint usage by 30- 40 % compared to the previous hand-sprayed process . All Lotus sports car operations at Hethel and in Norwich are powered by 100 % renewable electricity , thanks to a partnership with energy supplier Centrica ,” said the OEM .
The buildings which housed the previous Lotus assembly lines have been converted to sub-assembly . They are now home to the new framing line which builds the car bodies as part of Emira pre-production , with robots applying bonding agent to the sides , roof and cantrails . New Automated Guided Vehicles ( AGVs ) ensure efficient movement of cars-inbuild on set routes around the factory , allowing operations teams to focus on assembling the vehicles . By using AGVs , Lotus has futureproofed its sports car manufacturing system as changes can be made quickly and easily to accommodate different manufacturing
The opening ceremony for Lotus ’ Chapman Production Centre .
processes as new vehicle models are introduced .
The main assembly line also includes Wheel Alignment and Headlamp Aim ( WAHA ) equipment , a Vehicle Configuration and Test System ( VCaTS ), monsoon water test booth , rolling road and fuel fill area . Next to the Chapman Production Centre is a new validation track where all production cars are tested as part of the quality assurance process .
The new sub-assembly facility , Lotus Advanced Structures in Norwich , is just a few miles to the north of Hethel and houses the bonded and extruded chassis assembly and the subframe and fuel tank manufacture for all Lotus cars . The chassis and front-end assembly line includes robot bonding agent application , 12 new CNC milling machines and a new laser cutting machine to manufacture fuel tanks , rear subframes and many of the steel and aluminium components used on the Emira . n

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16 | sheetmetalplus . com | ISMR June 2022