BMW has offiaclly introduced the third shift at their 3series plant in Roslyn, by Simphiwe Mbokazi 453

Roy Cokayne

BMW South Africa’s production facility in Rosslyn is now officially a 24-hour operation, after the vehicle manufacturer introduced a third shift at the plant from the middle of last month.

This initiative created an additional 600 jobs at the plant and more than 1 000 new jobs among its suppliers.

The third shift will also increase BMW SA’s installed production capacity by almost 70 percent to more than 80 000 units a year from next year, and will allow it to more than double the number of BMW 3-Series units it exports to markets such as the US, Canada, South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Australasia.

Bodo Donauer, BMW SA’s managing director, said yesterday that the introduction of a third production shift had resulted in many strategic advantages for the plant, suppliers and the industry as a whole.

“The fact that this increase in volume also comes with a 30 percent increase in employment at BMW [SA], along with the more than 1 000 new jobs at our suppliers, is the most obvious benefit of this decision,” Donauer said.

The Rosslyn plant would now be responsible for meeting 25 percent of global demand for BMW 3-Series vehicles.

Guy Kilfoil, a BMW SA spokesman, said in October that about 1 200 production workers had been undergoing training since July in preparation for this move.

BMW had selected as many employees as it could for its third-shift programme and sent the others back into the workplace with real skills they could use in the automotive industry.

The BMW 3-Series, in terms of volume, is the most important model for the BMW Group and the biggest selling model in the entire premium segment.

Rosslyn has been involved in building every generation of the 3-Series sedan.

Donauer said the R2.2 billion investment made by BMW in production technology for the new BMW 3-Series between 2009 and this year had primed the Rosslyn plant for an even brighter and more sustainable future.

BMW SA announced recently that it had become the first car manufacturer in the country, since the implementation of the Motor Industry Development Programme, to receive a clearance permit from the Chinese authorities, known as the China Quality Certification, which allows it to export vehicles to China.