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In this programme Dr John Blunden considers Alfred Weber's Least Cost Location Theory in relation to the British motor industry. A historical perspective is used to shed light on the factors which ...have determined its location. The programme begins on film at the British Leyland Motor Corporation's factory complex at Cowley in Oxford. Dr Blunden ennumerates the location factors and explains the importance of proximity of the various production centres for components, engines, bodies etc. Several location factors are considered in turn: supplies markets, labour, management and government policies. Parallels with the US motor industry are also drawn. Dr Blunden then considers the conflict of interests which has occurred over the question of locating new plants both in Britain and the US. Finally Dr Blunden explains that the intrusion of government policies interferes with the 'natural' interplay of the Weberian location factors. He also points out that Weber did not take into account the attitudes of management and labour, factors which are seen as very significant in contemporary analysis.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: D100, Understanding society: a foundation course
Item code: D100; 20
First transmission date: 30-05-1971
Published: 1971
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:31
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Producer: Roger Tucker
Contributor: John Blunden
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): British Leyland; Dagenham; Ford; Oxford
Footage description: Aerial view of Oxford city centre. Shots of Cowley, Oxford - both homes and and factories. Shot of BLMC factory, Cowley. Shot of workers leaving the factory at the end of the day shift. John Blunden introduces the unit. Caption of factors which influence the location of a car factory. 1 . Access to supplies. 2. Access to markets. 3. Access to right sort of labour. 4. Management policy. 5. Goverment influence. 6. Scale of production. These factors will be examined for the rest of the programme. Aerial view of BLMC, Cowley. Scale of production is taken up. Film shots of cars being manufactured (c.192O). All work is done by hand. The commentary explains the process. Film shots of a modern car being manufactured. Commentary explains the process. 5 stages of building a modern car are captioned and discussed. They are 1. Design. 2. Component production. 3. Body section pressing and welding. 4. Sub assembly production (engines, etc) 5. Final assembly. Shots of several different BLMC models in a line abreast. All are based on the same basic body shell, suspension, gearbox, etc: A discussion on the economics of scale which this allows. Discussion of the effect of large scale operation in the car industry is aided by a table which shows the decline in number of car firms since 1913 (198 firms) to 1970 (4 firms) in the. U.K. Caption shows percentage of home market for each of the four in 1970. The merger history of BLMC is traced on a diagram. This is an additional example for the discussion on economy of scale. The factor of access to component supplies in determining car plant location is examined. Blunden gives a brief history of Kidland component firms using a map of England as an aid. Aerial view of BLMC Triumph factory at Coventry. A map shows the proximity of component manufacturers to the Triumph factory at Coventry. Shot of Pressed Steel Fisher, the car body manufacturer. It is an integral part of the Cowley BLMC works. Shot of covered conveyor belt at BLMC which carries the bodies from Pressed Steel Fisher to the assembly plant. Map of Britain showing steel suppliers for Midland car body manufacturers. Aerial shots of a large highway interchange (junction) in the U.S. Shot of map of U.S.A. showing the central location of the U.S. car industry: Commentary to these shots gives some reasons for predominance of car industry in the Midwest. Shot of several U.S. car factories and a map of the U.S. showing distance of major markets from the Midwest centres. The stages of assembly of a modern American car are captioned on the screen. 1. Manufacture of individual parts. 2. Sub-assembly 3. Final assembly Map of the U.S. showing areas where final assembly of cars now takes place. Many are well away from the traditional assembly areas as skilled labour is no longer needed at the assembley stage. Map of England showing the largest automobile market areas in order of size. The map shows that the Midlands are most favourable for access to these markets. Shots of the port at Fords of Dagenham as an example of a plant well placed for access to overseas markets. In contrast BLMC cars are shown being transported to dock on road transporters. They are shown being prepared for loading on ships. Shots of crates of car spares at the docks ready for shipment. Blunden sums up the labour component in determining factory location and goes on to the management role. The role of the founders of car manufacturing firms in choosing location of the factories is examined. Blunden examines the role of government in determining the location of car plants. He briefly discusses the U.S. National Industrial Dispersal Program which encouraged expansion of the car industry outside its traditional areas. Blunden takes up government involvement in determining location of industry in Britain. Map shows Britains developfftment areas (areas of high unemployment) Caption shows % of expansion to development area in 1960/61. Blunden discusses the experiences of British car manufacturers who expanded into the development areas. He examines the difficulties they encountered, mainly labour problems and distance from supply and markets. Shots of various car factories in thedevelopment areas. Blunden discusses the lack of component firms in these areas and the unwillingness of local engineering firms to take on component production Blunden sees a bleak picture for car manufacturers in the regions. Blunden discusses the drawbacks of the Weberian model as applied to the motor industry. Table shows the limits of the Weberian model when applied to the criteria used in the unit.
Master spool number: 6HT/70088
Production number: 00520_1220
Videofinder number: 3380
Available to public: no