Since leaving university in 2011 I have worked at Jaguar Land Rover, which quite a few people dont know is one company. JLR as its known love a good acronym and I work in PE / PEO / EL / TD / DD which stands for Product Engineering / Product Engineering Operations / Engineering Laboratories / Technology Development / Design Development.
I am based at the Gaydon site which is a former RAF base. Most of the Engineering and development of the JLR vehicles takes place at Gaydon, with its own proving ground and off road testing facilities. The actual vehicle production takes places at various sites around the world, with 4 main sites in the UK combined with China, Austria, Slovakia, India and Brazil.
I am the group leader for the Design Development team and we are responsible for the delivery of test rigs to ensure that all JLR vehicles meet the standards expected by the end customers. The team is made of 4 design engineers, including a graduate and an undergraduate on placement.
The diverse range of JLR vehicles ensures that we are always busy and we design rigs for everything from a Land Rover Defender, to a Jaguar F Type. The testing requirements also differ greatly and we could be designing a single component test rig, or a full vehicle road simulator.
Typically my working day starts at 07:00 although a few days a week I may sneak in a 06:15 swim which still allows me to get into the office for 07:30 with a bit of transition practice thrown in to make sure that I can still find a parking space at that time! The office is directly above the testing laboratory and machine shop and has about 70 desks, making it one of the smallest offices on site.
Each morning I will have a weekly review with one of the engineers in the team, to go through their current projects, issues, ideas, design reports, manufacturing requirements etc. I would guess about 90% of the rig components we design are made in house, so we spend quite a bit of time with the manufacturing team to make sure everything fits together before the vehicle arrives for testing.
The way vehicles are tested is always evolving as new technologies become available. JLR are now using robots in a climatic chamber to test doors and door seals by slamming them shut 80,000 times throughout a temperature cycle of -40°c up to 85°c. The testing carried out on a full vehicle road simulator enables us to duplicate the effective damage of driving 100,000miles over 10years in the space of about 8 weeks.
My working day normally finishes around 16:00, and desk to door takes about 30mins. The great thing about starting and finishing early is that it frees up a lot of time in the evening for some training. The variety of the triathlon club training sessions, mid-week time trials in the summer, and mountain bike night rides in the winter means that Friday soon comes around, which is made even better with me being on an ‘older’ JLR contract which gives me a 12:00 Friday finish time!