6.1 – A factory within a factory
6.2 – It’s all in the blend
Tiny plastic pellets are the lifeblood of the Plastics Shop. The pellets are fed into the factory from large storage silos before being treated and blended according to what they will be used to make. This busy department produces as many as 800 sets of bumpers on a daily basis – a pair for each of the 700 cars Burnaston creates each day and a further 100 for spares.
As well as building parts for brand new cars, the Plastics Shop also plays a key role in keeping older Toyotas on the road. Moulds and designs are held for models dating back to the Carina E of the early Nineties. Made to order, the factory produces a handful of such parts at least once every month.
6.3 – Cooking by numbers
The plastic pellets come in different grades – softer and more flexible for making bumpers, stiffer and with a different finish for dashboards. In order to make these different components, the pellets are fed into a huge plunger that heats them to around 400 degrees centigrade. The plastic melts and is then squeezed down thick hoses into a metal die, which contains a precise mould of the part.
Once formed, the part is removed from the mould by a robotic arm and carried on a conveyor belt to a team member who then trims and stores it, ready for the next manufacturing stage. All trimmings are fed back into the system for recycling back into their original state so they can be used again.