Inside the McLaren Technology Centre - DRIVEN

Uploaded by drive on 22.05.2012


JF MUSIAL: McLaren is a brand synonymous with motor racing.
Formula One is the most obvious connection.
But McLaren was also involved with Can-Am
racing as well as IndyCar.
Founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren, a former racer
himself, it's one of the few brands in the world that
invests itself so heavily into racing.

JOHN ALLERT: It wouldn't surprise you to know when you
come to a building like this that everything we do is about
attention to detail.
But it's not just attention to detail for detail's sake.
It's always with an objective in mind.
And 9 times out of 10, that objective is winning.
We have other businesses where winning isn't necessarily
being first across the line-- it's about being the best.
But at the end of the day, everything we do is about
being better than our peers, better than our competitors.
JF MUSIAL: I have to ask though.
You look at Bruce McLaren's vision and
actually what Ron Dennis--
how has McLaren transpired at after all these years to be
what it is, from those initial idea?
JOHN ALLERT: I think it's because it's the shared value
systems that Bruce had and that Bruce
imparted on his team.
And then when Ron took over, he had very much those same
values, but then just took them to a whole new level, was
able to bring in greater finance.
And that gave us the muscle to then develop that vision and
take it into other areas.
JF MUSIAL: What I love, though, is that you stay close
to your racing history.
This is incredible.
JOHN ALLERT: Well, how can we not stay close
to our racing history?
I mean, our racing history is phenomenal.
And we've won 1 in 4 of every Formula One race we've ever
competed in.
JF MUSIAL: Unheard of.
JOHN ALLERT: We've been on the podium for 50% of every race
we've ever competed in.
So it's a pedigree and a heritage that we are obviously
very proud of.
We're not an extrovert business, but we feel very,
very proud inwardly of that success.
And it's that success that inspires the current
generation of people at McLaren to try and take it to
another level.
How do people feel about all of this heritage?
JOHN ALLERT: They feel enriched by it.
You can't help but feel inspired by it.
And it's one of the key reasons that we
have it all on display.
Your reaction when you walked in here is no different than
anybody's reaction.
Which is, wow, there's a Senna car, or there's a Prost car,
or whatever it is.
Everybody has their particular era that
they get excited about.
And for me just as one person, to actually see some of the
cars here every day that I've actually stood on the other
side of the wire from when I was 12 or 13
years old, I get tingles.
I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
We've had people break down in tears seeing some of the cars
that you've walked past today.
JF MUSIAL: Walking into the MTC, it's as if you're walking
into a science fiction movie--
long corridors with highly metallic surfaces.
You walk through hallways thinking Trent Reznor should
score a soundtrack for all the guests to listen to as they
enter the place for the first time.
Everything is spotless.
Everything is clean.
You can tell everything is designed obsessively.
And I'm not saying that in a cold way.
In fact, the architecture allows for so much natural
light into the work spaces it makes you feel awake, alive.
JOHN ALLERT: This building was a vision conceived in the kind
of mid to late '90s.
JOHN ALLERT: Ron Dennis always wanted to bring the kind of
the federation of companies together under one roof.
We'd grown exponentially over a period of 20, 25 years.
And we really were wanting the benefits of being back as one
kind of collective.
JF MUSIAL: Mm-hmm.
JOHN ALLERT: We then wanted a showpiece both for commercial
reasons, so that we could explain to people the vision
of what we're all about and hopefully elicit their
investment in us either as sponsors, or partners, or in
some cases, investors, but also to make sure that we
could recruit the best people, and get the best people to
come and share in what it was that we were trying to build.
And this facility really does inspire the
people who work here.
And I think that Ron really was ahead of time in creating
something that people would just want to be in, want to be
part of, as well as well as the success of
the business itself.
To actually come to a place like this is--
it's an awe-inspiring environment in which to work.
And it's a little like going on stage.
You really feel like you have to up your game when you
arrive here every morning.
JF MUSIAL: It is an inviting experience, which makes sense.
The MTC opened in 2003.
And Ron Dennis was very influential in its design.
Inside, you not only have McLaren Racing but also
McLaren Automotive and the not so well known McLaren
Walking in here, you look at this, this is not what I was
expecting at all.
JOHN ALLERT: No, this looks--
JF MUSIAL: This looks like a scientific laboratory.
JOHN ALLERT: I was just going to say it looks like a
But it's not.
This is part of McLaren Electronics.
JF MUSIAL: Got it.
JOHN ALLERT: So this is where ECUs are actually being
physically created.
I mean, we're printing circuit boards in there.
That's high-end stuff.
It's not the sexy end of the business.
But it's very high-end.
JF MUSIAL: Ron Dennis wanted the building to attract the
best engineers and designers.
But more importantly, he wanted to keep them there.
Walking the hallways, you can tell everyone who works there
has a sense of pride to be working within those walls.
JOHN ALLERT: It's actually-- it's a very selfless culture.
I think we attract like-minded people here who ultimately
want to win and what to do the best they can possibly do in
whatever role they have.
But they're selfless people who want to come
together as a team.
And understand that actually the old cliche of 1 plus 1
equals 3, that if they can all come together and be the best
in their particular discipline, chances are that
we're more likely to succeed or to win.
And we have a lot to live up to.
We have 49 years of success.
In the time that we've been in Formula One, for example,
there have been over 100 Formula
One teams have failed--
have come and gone, left Formula One.
So this is no place for the weak or the meek.
And we're reminded of those sorts of statistics every year
when people either leave the automotive sector or they
leave Formula One.
And that's part of that pressure to make sure that
we're being the best.
Because it's a slippery pole.
Either in supercars or in Formula One,
it's a slippery pole.
And those that aren't near the top have a real struggle.
JF MUSIAL: Now, past the wind tunnel and the Formula One
work bays, we walk down a long hallway, all underground, very
James Bond-like.
You then hit a set of stairs.
You go up.
And then you walk into what is called the
McLaren Production Center.
This is McLaren Automotive.
This is the future of McLaren.
LEE BOYCE: So right now, this is the north end of the MPC.
This is a VIP area.
This is a hosting suite.
So this is basically where potential customers, or
dignitaries, or any type of VIP can come to this area.
And from this area, we lead directly out onto the
production facility, just around this corner here.
LEE BOYCE: And I think you need to see that.
JF MUSIAL: Let's go check it out.
So how old is this place?
LEE BOYCE: So we've been operating in here now for--
Look at this!
LEE BOYCE: --eight months.

JF MUSIAL: And you're in full production at this point.
That is incredible.
LEE BOYCE: We are flat-out production.
And we have been now since the turn of the year.
We have been at full capacity in terms of our planning
requirements for this year.
And for sure, everything, from a production point of view is
going absolutely beautifully at this moment.
JF MUSIAL: This is surreal.
JF MUSIAL: It's almost a [INAUDIBLE] room.
And it mimics the MTC but on a different level.
Prior to the MP4-12C, McLaren built my favorite hypercar,
the F1, then after that, the SLR, which was built right
alongside the F1 cars.
But now, for the new MP4-12C, it's an entirely new building.
The first thing I noticed there was that there was a lot
of unused space.
McLaren has been around for about 50 years.
But McLaren Automotive is essentially an
entirely new company.
They built the McLaren Production Center knowing they
would be building other models besides the MP4-12C.
LEE BOYCE: Actually, what you're looking at now is the
best part of 20,000 square meters of floor space on which
we want to produce the vehicle.
We worked really hard to make sure that we could integrate
all of the processes that were absolutely critical to
ensuring that the assembly of this vehicle was felt on
absolute personal level from an operator's point of view,
but also gave the customer a really good feeling that
actually, his ownership experience didn't start when
he took the car.
It actually started at the placement of order.
And therefore, if he wanted to visit this facility, he could
actually come and see his vehicle being birthed.
All of the technicians feel as though they're involved in
making that person's car.
So it's not just a vehicle.
They accept that there behind that is a customer, and a
valued customer.
And we wanted to make sure that his ownership experience
started right here from the moment we first loaded any
components into the facility.
If we keep taking a look down here--
JF MUSIAL: So this is Phase 1 right here.
LEE BOYCE: So this is absolutely the
start of the process.
So this is the MP4-12C monococque right here.
LEE BOYCE: We didn't want any feel of industrialization in
the facility.
We wanted it to be a theater.
LEE BOYCE: It was really important to us that we create
an environment where everything felt special and
everything felt personal.
And I think we've achieved that.
So what you don't see is you don't see any significant
levels of automation.
You don't see clunking--
JF MUSIAL: You almost see none.
LEE BOYCE: --chains.
You don't see any conveyors.
You won't see air lines or anything like this.
It's all very quiet.
It's all very composed.
And it's all very simple in its execution.
If we take a look at some of the racking and what have you,
there are a number of components such as fastenings
and such as brackets and that where we can clearly hold
quite a decent level of stock holding lineside.
And as you can see with things like these front long
[INAUDIBLE], we've designed some bespoke stillaging to
allow us to--
JF MUSIAL: Just for these parts?
LEE BOYCE: Just for these particular parts.
And we have bespoke stillaging all around the facility.
But I think what's a really good, tactile thing about what
you're looking at right now is if you look at the diameter
and the radius of the bespoke stillaging, it's absolutely
the same as the radius and the diameter of the racking.
As you could see, this is where the vehicle's being more
and more progressed through its build assembly phase.
So the windscreen surround is going on there.
And the B-pillar carting is going on here.
So even though we have 100% confidence in the facilities,
and the equipment, and the whole
process with these guys--
and we are 100% confident--
that doesn't stop us taking every single body, and it is
every single body, and processing them into the
Geometric and Surface Validation station.

So this is Geometric and Surface Validation.
So basically, every single body--
even though we're 100% confident it's in a good
place, we still want to measure it just to ensure that
we don't get any quality drift in the overall body's vehicle
assembly status.
JF MUSIAL: So this whole rig here is just for measurement.
LEE BOYCE: So everything that you're seeing here is
absolutely for measurement.
So if we take a lot of surface points.
We take hundreds of surface points.
We take hundreds of geometric points on the vehicle to
ensure that we know that the car is in a really good place
The body would exit these double doors here.
JF MUSIAL: Got it.
LEE BOYCE: Which are closed at the moment.
Then it will go into-- this is the paint facility now.
In essence, the vehicle through this paint facility is
processed across two skids.
The body goes on one particular skid and all of the
other supplementary panels go onto another.
This is the single biggest piece of investment in terms
of equipment in the whole of MPC.
And so we've pushed all of the potential suppliers--
with regard to paint facilities--
hard in terms of making sure that in their thinking,
they've got absolutely what we were all about in terms of an
So whilst all of them could have satisfied us
that's not a problem--
we wanted to make sure that this was right as well.
This was really important for us to make sure that they
understood our philosophies, our methodologies, and they
clearly understand that from a brand augmentation point of
view, whatever they install absolutely complemented them.
Because what it creates is it creates a completely different
mindset of thinking for the technician.
What it demonstrates to the technician is that we've
thought about their working environment as much as we have
the product and the customer.
Because if we create a perfect work environment for them,
they can only ever give their best of themselves.
And I actually think you get that natural transfer into the
vehicle there.
And you get an uplift of in-built
vehicle processing quality.
I'm absolutely convinced of that.
So what you're seeing here now is worth seeing.

This is what we call Skid 2.
And it's just had its base coat applied.
That won't go forward until they put the clear coat on
those particular booths here.
The whole facility-- even though we designed the
facility such that if we wanted to put
robots in here, we could.
And whilst robots have got great dexterity--
and they have-- and you can put all sorts of convoluted
and complicated programs into them, there's nothing more
dexterous than the human.
And what a robot doesn't have as well, he doesn't have the
eye as well.
It's an application process.
There's nothing emotional about it.
It's very clinical.
It's just application.
Here, these guys can take a view on when they think
they've done something absolutely the
right way or not.
And they've got an opportunity to do a level of reparation in
the booth should a mistake have been made or should they
see something on the vehicle, then they think, oh, that
doesn't look quite right, there's an opportunity here to
do that reparation.
this is an audit line.
And so basically, when the vehicle has had its clear coat
put on, it goes into the oven through
those glass doors there.
There's exits here.
And this is the first point we do some inspection.
Every single vehicle gets a full surface quality
The great thing about this facility is we have enough
flexibility in here to always do a fix the same day such
that it doesn't disrupt our output
requirements for the process.
So it comes all the way down this particular facility here,
shuffles across again, and then goes into the polishing
and final finishing site.
Every single car gets a full flat and polish so that we
raise the optical aspect of the vehicle.
So we create a far greater level of depth
on the color itself.
So you can actually look into the color.
And you're not just looking at surface.
You're actually looking into the color.

FRANK STEPHENSON: Everything you see on the car, we like to
say it is done for a reason.
Which means that everything that you see has an effect on
the overall performance of the car.
And more so also, when they do say form follows function,
that sounds nice and everything.
But with this car, pretty much,
it's form equals function.
What looks right works.
What we've done is, of course, you have the two main intakes
on the front which are for your inner coolers.
They specifically have to get a lot of very air in there
very efficiently and do the job of cooling.
But also, we have what we call a splitter
right here in the front.
And that creates a lot of downforce, creates the right
feel for the road with the car.
This area is very critical underneath.
If you rub your hand underneath, you'll feel some,
what we call diblets.
They're little--
JF MUSIAL: Oh, yeah.
FRANK STEPHENSON: --pumps that actually straighten out the
airflow underneath, things that you don't even see, but
they're on the car.
I mean, every detail is really taken to the max on this car.
This is what we called biomimicry.
There's a lot of influence from what really works.
Some organisms in the world use this type of design
feature for purpose basically.
We have had a little bit of freedom with the headlights.
This is where you can really start to give the car a little
bit of a unique look.
It's almost as if it's the eyes of the person.
Eyes do give people a lot of character.
So we're not really influencing too much
technology here.
We are using high-tech Xenon lamps.
But you can see that the actual form of your daytime
running lamps sort of creates the feel of the McLaren logo.
JF MUSIAL: Uh-huh.
FRANK STEPHENSON: We let the light bleed through these
three little slots here which are almost
like fins or gills--
JF MUSIAL: Gills-- that's exactly what I was going to--
FRANK STEPHENSON: --of a shark.
JF MUSIAL: --going to describe as gills.
FRANK STEPHENSON: And that sort of-- when you're in the
front, you look back and you see that, it really gives the
car its own unique look to it.
Another thing that we've really concentrated on is
keeping the cowl, the back of the hood, as low as we can for
full optimal forward visibility.
So we pushed it quite far down.
That gives us a great viewing angle from
the driver's position.
And one of the funny things that you would not really
notice unless you're actually sitting in the car-- it's very
interesting-- is that the center point of the wheel is
directly under the highest point of the fender.
Which means when you're actually sitting down, you
know where your wheels are placed to hit the apex.
JF MUSIAL: Because you see it.
FRANK STEPHENSON: Because you know that the farthest point
you're looking-- or the highest point-- is actually
the center of the wheel.
So you can really place it--
JF MUSIAL: Interesting.
FRANK STEPHENSON: --precisely that way.
Really important is actually this blade that we have here
on the side.
And although it looks kind of like an element that we sat
down and designed and had fun with, it really came out of
the computer, out of what we call CFD,
Computational Fluid Dynamics.
And in our intent to make the car as small as possible and
center all the weight towards the center of the car, we've
actually turned the radiators parallel to the direction of
the car to get the weight, the mass, all towards the middle.
This blade here has been done on the computer such that it
generates or actually keeps the air attached to it.
And it throws it in on an accelerated curve.
So you get plenty of coin that way.
So this blade is [INTERPOSING VOICES]
very necessary.
Of course, it adds flavor to the car and
makes it more unique.
But it's there for a reason, as I said.
Another element that I really like on the car is what we
call the air brake on the back of the car.
And we don't consider it a spoiler.
It's not even used as a spoiler.
It's basically a way of adjusting the
braking on the car.
So anytime you break in anger--
JF MUSIAL: In anger--
I like that.
FRANK STEPHENSON: Well, with intent to break, I guess, to
slow down--
it goes 90 degrees.
And what happens then is that the center of gravity actually
moves back towards the back of the car and puts more weight
on the back wheels so that you can actually use the breaks in
the rear a little bit more.
A lot of the action is actually done by the wind
itself, not by pushing it up but releasing it.
And then lift-- go up on its own.
One of the design words that we use a lot on the car is to
actually-- for the language--
is actually to almost, like, shrink-wrap the surface.
Whereas a lot of cars add volume, what we're trying here
to do is take away volume.
So you're almost, like, shrink-wrapping the metal over
the hard points, which are suspension mounts, or vision
angles, or head clearance angles, whatever.
So we're trying to minimize, take weight out of the car, by
reducing the amount of surface area we have running.
JF MUSIAL: Got it.
LEE BOYCE: So this is basically the start of the
trim and final part of the process.
This is where we start layering the car and
installing it ready for us to take it to a point of--
JF MUSIAL: No wiring harness?
Wiring harness?
LEE BOYCE: Wiring harness--it's
as simple as that.
LEE BOYCE: So we have the opportunity of being able to
produce the same amount of cars in this facility as any
of our competitors with their levels of industrialization.
You don't actually need that.
And we wanted to create a different blueprint for how to
build cars.
And if we take a look at these vehicle ramps here, these are
a standard vehicle ramp.
But we wanted to make sure that we put some nice
architectural cladding around it.
And we made sure that we set all of the services underneath
the tiles as well.
So you do not see any lines.
And that's why everything is really clean.
And it was really important to us that we didn't trailing air
lines, and we didn't see trailing cables.
This is a really interesting feature in the facility.
Again, same diameter, same radius, but what's really
interesting here is that all of the services are in a
trench here.
JF MUSIAL: Got it.
LEE BOYCE: So we have this trench that runs the full
length of the building.
We have those in three or four places across the building.
All of the services actually go feed up through the back of
these tool cabinets there, so that all of the IT
functionality is fed up through here as well.
So you don't see any cables here.
And if you need to use compressed air or you need to
use single phase electrics, it's all
embedded within the facility.
And you just don't see any cabling.
Every single operator is accountable for his work.
They work with what we call--
we have this little access swipe system.
So when the car comes into the facility, every single
operator has to swipe his card.
If we take a look here--
I won't do it because it means I'll have to start assembling
parts of the car.
But he would swipe his card across the reader there.
And then that locks him personally into that
particular vehicle to undertake a certain amount of
work on that particular car.
JF MUSIAL: He's responsible.
LEE BOYCE: He's absolutely 100% responsible.
Now, we're getting into the final stages of--
JF MUSIAL: I'm seeing a bunch of grease pen on here.
So 248, 248-- so that's how you identify [INAUDIBLE]
LEE BOYCE: That's how we identify--
LEE BOYCE: Absolutely.
So this particular panel was painted with
this particular body.
So that we absolutely make sure we don't get any
inconsistencies with color matching or
anything like this.
JF MUSIAL: Got it.
LEE BOYCE: And not only that--
we want to make sure that this particular component is going
to be reset with this particular door, so we get a
really good fit and finish from a gap and profile point
of view as well.
So what we're doing here now on this particular station--
this is the geometry setup lift.
This is basically where we do toe, camber, ride heights, and
all of that sort of thing in readiness for when we go into
the dynamic rig.
This is where we put the car through its first
real dynamic load.
So we do an engine fire-up further
upstream in the process.
And this is where we put the car through some
dynamic load here now.
So basically, we bring the car up to temperature, check most
of the electrical systems are working, and all of the brains
in the vehicle are communicating with each other.
We do some brake activity.
We do some acceleration, deceleration.
But just generally, put the car through some immediate
dynamic loads.
LEE BOYCE: So in essence, vehicle goes through a dynamic
rig into the Monsoon where we give it a full
saturation of water.
I don't know--
16,000 liters in about 6 or 7 minutes-- it's a
huge amount of water.
Car exits there.
It then gets prepared, ready for external drive appraisal.
They all leave through that door there.
LEE BOYCE: Goes out on its external drive appraisal where
we put it through some more aggressive loads.
One of things-- when we were landscaping the whole
exterior, the outside of the facility, what was really
important to us was to try and optimize the land
around us as well.
So we've got cobbled sections of roadway out there which
allow us to shake and rattle the car a little bit just to
loosen anything.
Go before we actually take it on the highways and byways.
LEE BOYCE: Obviously, during the wetter seasons in the
year, the car could come back with some muck and what have
you on them.
And that's why we just have this wash down rig here now.
So we just give the underside a quick wash down and just
make sure that the vehicle is fully cleaned
before it exits here.
It would sit normally on here for 45 minutes, just to have a
final drip-dry.
We take a look at the vehicle after its been out on an
external drive.
And what we do is we're basically checking to make
sure that nothing has worked loose, there are no weeps, or
leaks, or anything like that from any of the joints.
LEE BOYCE: There's been no displacement of any harness
clips or anything like this.
And everything [INAUDIBLE] is absolutely how we want it to
be-- a very, very critical station.
We're getting ourselves ready to hand the car over to the
auditors with what we perceive to be a car that is acceptable
for the customer.
The auditors then give it a really thorough investigation,
an interrogation.
And again, they go to the nth degree of checking service
quality, checking fit and finish, checking functionality
of all of the systems.
JF MUSIAL: So that's it.
These cars go to the customers, right?
LEE BOYCE: These cars are ready to go to the customer.
JF MUSIAL: So where's--
JF MUSIAL: Where's the car I'm driving?
LEE BOYCE: Unfortunately, it's not one of these.
But just for you, we have one back at the base.
JF MUSIAL: Thank you.