Ford Transit Van Factory, Southampton

Ford Plant, Swaythling, Southampton

The Ford Plant in Swaythling, Southampton produced Transit Vans from 1965 until it's closure in 2013. The automated production lines feature lots of cool robots!

Visited December 2014 Swaythling, Southampton, UK Decommissioned

History of Ford’s Southampton Plant

The history of the site at Swaythling on the outskirts of Southampton dates back to 1939 when Cunliffe-Owen built a factory to assemble aircraft parts. The site manufactured parts for the Spitfire during the war and was bombed many times.

The factory was sold to Briggs Motor Bodies after the war when Cunliffe-Owen was placed in receivership in 1947. Briggs supplied vehicle bodies to the Ford Motor Company. Ford bought the company and hence acquired the factory which now specialised in producing truck bodies to be used with the chassis that were produced at their Slough plant.

From 1965 Ford started to produce the Transit Van in Britain. Bodies were manufactured at Swaythling and transported by road to the Slough plant. In 1972 Ford invested £5 million in the Swaythling plant to enable it to produce the entire Transit Van at a single site. The site employed 4,500 workers during that time until the mid-1980’s.

The site was very compact, being enclosed by the M27 motorway, a railway line, a graveyard and Southampton Airport. This meant expansion was impossible, so parts of the site are built on a vertical axis to maximise the use of space. The paint-shop expands upwards to a height of six stories, rather than the traditional horizontal layout.

In 2002 ford ceased production of passenger vehicles in the UK, and in 2011 announced that production of the Transit Van would shift to Turkey with the exception of the short and medium wheelbase, and Tourneo minibus versions – production of these variants was ramped up at the Swaythling site. As parts of a larger cutback of their European production capacity Ford announced in 2012 that production in the UK would come to an end the following year. The Southampton site produced its final Transit Van in July 2013.

Ford Plant, Swaythling - Robots on the production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Robots on the production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling - View above the production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – View above the production line
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - In the production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – In the production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Robotic workers sat dormant
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Robotic workers sat dormant
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Looking into the assembly line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Looking into the assembly line
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Complex Machinery
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Machinery
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Conveyor system
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Conveyor system
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Twin robots above the assembly line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Twin robots above the assembly line
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Several robots at an assembly station
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Several robots at an assembly station
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Production line
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Production line
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Kuka robot
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Kuka robot
Ford Plant, Swaythling - The place was full of futuristic spaces
Ford Plant, Swaythling – The place was full of futuristic spaces
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Workstation
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Workstation
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Long lines
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Long lines
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Production areas along the line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Production areas along the line
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Transport system with tilting hangers
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Transport system with tilting hangers
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Inside the fully enclosed grease plant
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Inside the fully enclosed grease plant
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Machines to apply grease to the Transit Vans
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Machines to apply grease to the Transit Vans
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Control station
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Control station
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Machinery
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Machinery
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Pressure guages
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Pressure guages
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Wiring
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Wiring
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Robots above the line
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Robots above the line
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Trio of robots
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Trio of robots
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Automated robots fitted with welding gear
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Automated robots fitted with welding gear
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Kuka logo detail
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Kuka logo detail
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Workstation with tools
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Tools at Workstation
Ford Plant, Swaythling - The dance of the machines
Ford Plant, Swaythling – The dance of the machines
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Industrial avenue
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Industrial avenue
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Surrounded by industry
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Lots of industry
Ford Plant, Swaythling - An army of robots
Ford Plant, Swaythling – An army of robots
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Automated workforce
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Automated workforce
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Disassembled robots
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Disassembled robots
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Moving Parts - No unauthorised access
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Moving Parts – No unauthorised access
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Office
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Office
 
Ford Plant, Swaythling - Staff canteen
Ford Plant, Swaythling – Staff canteen
Ford Plant, Swaythling - The plant had it's own large café
Ford Plant, Swaythling – The plant had it’s own large café

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