COWLEY WIZARD WILL HEAD HONDA TIE UP
Mr Andrew Barr. a tough 41-year-old Scot, who ran BL’s Cowley assembly plant while it became one of Leyland’s most successful factories , has landed another important job. He is to be manufacturing director for Rover Triumph. His responsibilities will include the British version of the new Japanese Honda car, to be made at Canley, Coventry.
He will also be responsible for the Rover plant at Solihull. Since Mr Barr moved to Oxford last August as operations director for Austin Morris at Cowley and the group’s Seneffe plant in Belgium, Cowley has broken productivity records. For some years it has been less trouble prone than the other main Austin Morris plant at Longbridge but in recent months has regularly risen above 100 per cent of programmed output. In the fifth week of the year it qualified for the first stage of BL’s production parity payments of £8 a week and has since qualified for the second stage of £2 a week.
This money has been “banked” pending the finalisation of negotiations to streamline jobs into five pay grades. It was partly because Cowley and some other plants were reaching their parity payments targets that BL decided to move away from a national approach (under which Cowley would not have got extra payments until the rest of BL improved itself) to a plant-by plant basis. Mr Michael Edwardes, chairman of BL, said recently that Cowley was approaching Continental levels of productivity and was on a par with the group’s Seneffe factory, where productivity, if not profitability, has been high.
BL admits there is still one major area for improvement at Cowleyâ€”the time taken to build cars, where its record it not yet up to Continental standards. Although productivity has been improving at Cowley, it has been dropping off at Solihull, where the Rover range is produced. Cowley’s improvement has also coincided with a lean period of production for the rest of the industry. Production was below the level.