How Do They Do It?

This fascinating series explores the machines,
processes and structures that form the backbone
of 21st-century living. In this instalment, Robert
finds out how armoured cars are built, how the
Thames is kept relatively clean and how flat-pack
furniture is produced.
How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under
the microscope to explain the designs and
processes behind our daily lives. Robert Llewellyn
gets his hands dirty in a bid to better understand
the technology that keeps the world moving.
In the past, only heads of state and crime bosses
drove around in armoured cars, but it is a different
story today. Thanks to growing fears surrounding
kidnapping, assassination and terrorism, there is
now a booming demand for armoured vehicles.
Worldwide, over 10,000 cars are protected every
year, for use by politicians, diplomats,
businessmen, judges, journalists, aid workers and
celebrities. But how are these vehicles made?
In Cincinnati, Ohio, manufacturers have been building armoured cars for almost 60 years. The process starts with the stripping down of a car to its bare bones. Then the car is measured up and a bespoke suit of armour is cut from ballistic-grade steel. Windows are replaced with bullet-proof glass, petrol tanks are filled with foam to prevent them exploding, and the wheels are fitted with rodguards to enable the car to keep moving, even when the tyres have been ripped to shreds.
Next up, Robert takes to the water to find out how the River Thames is kept clear of rubbish. Everything from drinks cartons to cars can end up being dumped in the river, so the Port of London Authority must constantly patrol the water, removing rubbish and ensuring that ships can keep moving through England’s capital.
Finally this week, How Do They Do It? visits the small town of Almhult in Sweden – the home of the world’s first IKEA store – to examine how a furniture revolution began 60 years ago. Almhult is
still where IKEA designs and develops its products, but how is flat-pack furniture made?
The secret is a design that is not only functional, attractive and easy to assemble, but one that can be packed together tightly. But with almost 300 stores worldwide, the IKEA warehouse in Almhult
is vast, measuring over a kilometre in length and standing 20 storeys high.

This fascinating series explores the machines,
processes and structures that form the backbone
of 21st-century living. In this instalment, Robert
discovers the surprising process behind the
creation of banknotes; learns how falconry has
found a new role in industry; and witnesses the
construction of the world’s largest truck.
How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under
the microscope to explain the technology,
designs and processes behind our daily lives.
Robert Llewellyn gets his hands dirty in a bid to
better understand the technology that keeps the
world moving.
Around the world, over one hundred billion
banknotes are printed every year, and during its
lifetime each note will pass through up to a
thousand pairs of hands until it ends up dirty,
tattered and torn. Although most paper money is
actually made from cotton, which is stronger and longer-lasting than regular wood pulp-based paper, it still wears out within a couple of years. To combat this, researchers in Australia have started
to make banknotes from plastic.
The process begins by melting the polymer and blowing it into one of the largest bubbles ever made, over five storeys high. This ensures the plastic has the right thickness. But the resulting material is completely transparent, so before engineers can print the banknote design, they have to coat the plastic with five layers of white paint.
Robert then heads to Ipswich to find out how the noble sport of falconry is now being used by industry to keep factories, warehouses and waste sites free from pests. He learns that whilst hawks are ideal for chasing away pigeons, a falcon is required for bigger birds like gulls.
Finally this week, Robert discovers how they build the ultimate Tonka toy – the Liebherr T 282B mining truck. The world’s largest lorry, its engine alone weighs 10.5 tonnes and delivers 3,650 horsepower. This monster is not just the size of a house – at over 14 metres long and more than seven metres tall, it could comfortably carry a house in its dumper as well. The programme visits the Mount Arthur coal mine in New South Wales, where 20 of these trucks are in constant use carrying over 300 tonnes of coal at a time from the pit to the processing plant.

This fascinating series explores the machines,
processes and structures that form the backbone
of 21st-century living. In this instalment, Robert
examines tree felling in Scandinavia, car
transportation in Bristol and confectionery
production in Canada.
How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under
the microscope to explain the technology,
designs and processes behind our daily lives.
Robert Llewellyn gets his hands dirty in a bid to
better understand the technology that keeps the
modern world moving.
Robert’s first voyage of discovery this week
takes him to Finland – one of the world’s largest
producers of timber, wood products and paper.
With over 77 billion trees, the equivalent of almost
15,000 trees per capita, Finland is one of the most
heavily forested countries in the world. But
keeping the thriving wood industry supplied with
material –more than 60 million trees per year –
requires a very special type of logging machine.
With its one-tonne cutter head, the John Deere
tree feller handles trees measuring 20 metres tall
as if they were matchsticks. It can fell a tree, strip
off its branches and chop it into logs all in under a
minute. It can also work all year round, even when
temperatures in the forests drop to –25ºC.
Elsewhere, Robert heads to Bristol’s Royal
Portbury Dock to find out how new road vehicles
make their way into the UK from all over the world.
Portbury is one of the ten busiest vehicle ports in
Europe, with over 600,000 cars passing through
every year – meaning that when a ship arrives, it
must be unloaded as quickly as possible. Each
time a new cargo ship docks at Portbury, over a
thousand cars must be driven off and safely
parked before the tide turns and the ship risks
being stranded.
Finally this week, Robert learns about the reallife
Willy Wonkas and Oompa-Loompas of
Canadian confectionery company Ganong.
Based in the tiny Canadian town of Saint Stephen,
New Brunswick, Ganong is one of the oldest
confectioners in North America and produces
three million kilogrammes of chocolate and some
two billion jelly beans every year. But before each
new product is launched, it must first pass an
extremely gruelling taste test before a panel of
very lucky local children.

This fascinating series explores the machines,
processes and structures that form the backbone
of 21st-century living. In this instalment, Robert
learns how diamonds are mined in one of the most
inhospitable places on earth, how the UK’s largest
power station provides the nation with electricity,
and how tenpin bowling machines work.
How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under
the microscope to explain the technology,
designs and processes behind our daily lives.
Robert Llewellyn gets his hands dirty in a bid to
better understand the technology that keeps the
modern world moving.
Robert’s first voyage of discovery this week takes
him to Lac de Gras – a lake approximately 300 km
north of Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest
Territories. For half the year, the lake is frozen over,
but beneath the water lies an extinct volcano; and
beneath this volcano is one of the richest deposits
of gem-quality diamonds in the world.
At the Diavik Diamond Mine, a 3.9 kilometrelong
dyke holds back the water, allowing access
to the earth. Some half a million tonnes of rock are
blasted away every week to get at the valuable
diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes. The mine
works all year round, even when the surrounding
temperatures drop to -45ºC.
Elsewhere, Robert heads to the village of Drax in
North Yorkshire, home to the largest power station
in the UK. The station produces over 24 billion
kilowatt hours of electricity a year – the equivalent of
three quarters of London’s electricity needs. In
order to produce such a vast quantity of energy, the
plant burns 36,000 tonnes of coal a day, but it is
one of the most efficient stations in the country.
Before the coal enters the furnaces, it is ground into
a powder so fine that it becomes explosive.
Finally this week, Robert learns the secrets of one
of the most popular sports in the world – tenpin
bowling. Millions of people across the world bowl
every year, but most would not think twice about
the technology involved. The sport’s success relies
on the speed and efficiency of the pin-spotting
machines, which reset the pins in just 8.5 seconds.
The Qubica/AMF factory in Virginia, USA, makes
hundreds of machines every month, and before
each one leaves the factory it is tested by the
workforce – making it the only factory in the world at
which workers are encouraged to strike!

This fascinating series explores the machines,
processes and structures that form the backbone
of 21st-century living. In this instalment, Robert
learns how a busy shipping channel in Canada is
kept clear of ice during freezing winters, how giant
bells are made in London, and how billions of
rubber bands are produced every year.
How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under
the microscope to explain the technology,
designs and processes behind our daily lives.
Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap
Challenge’) gets his hands dirty in a bid to better
understand the technology that keeps the
modern world moving.
Robert’s first voyage of discovery this week
takes him to the Saint Lawrence River in Canada.
Measuring some 1,000 miles in length, this river
connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean
and is an essential shipping channel. But how is it
kept open through the depths of the Canadian
winter, when temperatures can reach -20ºC and
the sea freezes over?
Although the Canadian Coastguard has
satellites, weather stations and helicopter patrols
that constantly monitor the ice floes, the only way
to keep a passage clear is with an icebreaker – an
enormous ship that ploughs through the frozen
water. With an 18,000 hp engine and a 60 cmthick
hull, the Amundsen is one of the most
powerful icebreakers there is, capable of pushing
aside all but the thickest ice. And when the ice gets
too thick to push out of the way, the Amundsen’s
captain drives on top of it, using the ship’s 8,000
tonne bulk to smash a way through.
Back in warmer climes, Robert gets his hands
dirty at the oldest manufacturing company in
Britain. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry has been
making bells in East London for almost 600 years,
and is responsible for Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell
and Westminster’s Big Ben. The process of
making such huge bells starts with a steaming
mound of horse manure. Once mixed with clay,
sand and goat hair, the manure forms the mould
into which molten bronze is then poured. Once
the metal has cooled from its 1,200ºC starting
temperature, the bell is fine-tuned by carefully
shaving thin layers of bronze from the inside.
Finally this week, Robert learns the production
process behind a very common and versatile
object – the rubber band. Every year in Britain, the
Royal Mail alone gets through some 342 million
rubber bands, and more than 50,000 tonnes of
bands are produced worldwide.
Almost all rubber bands are still made from
natural rubber, tapped from trees in Asia, before
being filtered, cooked, treated with sulphur,
extruded and chopped into the finished article.

This fascinating series explores the machines,processes and structures that form the backboneof 21st-century living. This week, Robert Llewellynfinds out how car airbags function; he discovershow internet shopping is gathered and distributedat a gigantic warehouse; and he learns all aboutthe afterlife of cars by visiting the largest carshredder in the world.How Do They Do It? puts the modern world underthe microscope to explain the technology,designs and processes behind our daily lives.Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘ScrapheapChallenge’) gets his hands dirty in a bid to betterunderstand the technology that keeps themodern world moving. This week, Robert learns the secrets of thehumble car airbag. These everyday devices havedramatically reduced serious injuries in roadaccidents since they were first introduced 30years ago. Yet the airbag has to inflate within five-hundredths of a second to be of any use, andmust deflate again within two-tenths of a second ifit is not to cause injuries itself. Robert discoversthat the airbag relies on a tiny explosive devicethat is triggered on impact, inflating a nylonballoon. The balloon is then peppered with holesto ensure that it deflates at exactly the right rate,absorbing much of the energy of the collision. Elsewhere, Robert tries his hand at shopping atone of the largest superstores in the UK. Thesuperstore in question is Ocado’s 100,000-square metre warehouse in Hatfield, where12,000 internet shoppers are served every day.Their shopping is collected in an automatedshopping basket that travels along 15 kilometresof shelves. Finally, Robert finds out what happens to an oldbanger when its motoring days are over. He headsto Newport in Wales, where the largest carshredder in the world can chew up to 450 cars anhour. Over 80 per cent of every old car now getsrecycled. Most of this material finds its way toChina, where it is turned into new cars,motorbikes and bicycles.

This fascinating series explores the machines, processes and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. In the last programme of the series, Robert Llewellyn uncovers the secrets of recycling. He also probes the mysteries behind self-winding watches, and finds out how to put together a flat-pack supertanker.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. As the world becomes progressively more automated and mechanised, people grow further removed from the way things are made and how things are done.

To rectify this, comedian Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) and a team of intrepid investigators get their hands dirty in a quest to understand modern technology. Each episode contains three stories that venture out of the ordinary, as the series meets the boffins who are constantly striving to make things bigger, faster, smaller or better. The show looks at the biggest ships, the tallest buildings and the fastest cars. But it also examines poorly understood and little-known details, such as how to make a golf ball and how to change the tyre on a jumbo jet.

The last episode in the series sees Robert exploring the secret world of recycling. Along the way, he learns the surprising fact that recycled wine bottles do not get turned back into wine bottles –they are in fact transformed into ‘glass wool’ for loft insulation.

Also this week, Robert reveals the magic behind quartz self-winding watches. Exactly how do you persuade a watch to wind itself? He also discovers how to put together a flat-pack, self-assembly supertanker –complete with instructions in Korean…

Monday 10th March at 19:30am on five

This fascinating series explores the machines, processes and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. In this edition, presenter Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) pilots a high-speed racing boat, examines the evolution of the mobile phone, and looks at the Kugira–a specialised catamaran used to build harbours.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. Robert Llewellyn and a team of intrepid investigators get their hands dirty in a bid to better understand the technology that keeps the modern world moving.

This ninth instalment sees Robert focus on the most expensive water sport in the world as he discovers how to pilot a 225hp racing boat capable of 70mph. Thanks to the expert tuition of eight-times Class 1 Powerboat world champion Steve Curtis, Robert makes the leap from sitting in the passenger seat in abject terror, to sitting behind the steering wheel in abject terror in a matter of minutes. He then learns how to ‘trim’ the boat so it skims smoothly across the surface of the water at full throttle.

Once back on dry land, Robert turns his attention to a gadget which many people use, but very few understand –the mobile phone. Since the first handheld phone call was made back in 1973, the mobile has been transformed from a clumsy brick to a svelte, shiny, indispensable tool. Today, there are more than three and a half billion mobiles in use around the world, with almost half of them being made by one Finnish company that produces more than a million units a day. Making a modern mobile relies heavily on miniaturisation, since over 350 components must be squeezed onto a single circuit board.

Finally, Robert explores how one of the world’s most unusual vessels, the Kugira, is being used to build ports and harbours. Whilst most catamarans are designed for speed, the Kugirahas a very different purpose. Between her two hulls she supports a platform capable of building the world’s largest concrete blocks –measuring up to 70 metres long and 35 metres high and wide. The Kugira carries these gargantuan bricks as they are made and then submerges herself so that the blocks can be lowered into position.

This fascinating series explores the extraordinary machines, processes and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. In this edition, presenter Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) examines the history and technology behind one of the largest construction projects of the 20th century – the Thames Barrier.

Elsewhere, he visits a huge newspaper-recycling plant in Kent, and looks at the art of glassmaking. How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. Comedian and presenter Robert Llewellyn and a team of intrepid investigators get their hands dirty in a bid to better understand the technology that keeps the modern world moving.

This eighth instalment sees Robert head to London to investigate how one of the world’s largest flood defence systems keeps the sea from encroaching upon the nation’s capital. Built between 1974 and 1984 at the cost of some half a billion pounds, the Thames Barrier was one of the largest construction projects of the 20th century. In the barrier’s control room, technicians keep watch round-the-clock for signs of a tidal surge building far out in the North Sea that could sweep up the Thames and overwhelm London’s sea defences. Increasingly often, they are having to lift the barrier’s massive 61 metre-long and 15 metre-high gates, as rising sea levels increase the risk of flooding. Robert goes deep into the heart of the structure to learn how the barrier works, and why it is so essential.

Elsewhere this week, Robert visits Aylesford Newsprint –a newspaper-recycling plant in Kent. This facility turns half a million tonnes of old newspaper back into fresh newsprint every year, using the world’s largest paper-making machine – a 90 metre-long and 30 metre-high leviathan that cost a hundred million pounds to build and turns out paper at a speed of 60 miles an hour. Robert investigates how this vast quantity of material is then turned back into the morning newspapers by giant presses that run through the night, swapping from one roll of newsprint to another in a split second without a break.

Finally, Robert explores the ancient art of glassmaking, learning how window glass is made almost perfectly smooth thanks to a process discovered 50 years ago in St Helen’s. The ‘float-glass method’ creates long, flat sheets by floating molten glass on a bath of molten tin.

Monday February 25 at 7:30pm on five

This fascinating series explores the extraordinary machines, processes and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. In tonight’s show, presenter Robert Llewellyn discovers how pencils are made, learns how to pilot a cargo ship into Sydney Harbour, and delves into the secrets of the modern golf ball.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. Comedian and presenter Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) and a team of intrepid investigators get their hands dirty in a bid to better understand the technology that keeps the modern world moving.

Teeing off this week’s episode, Robert learns the truth behind his lack of skill on the golf course – apparently he has been using the wrong balls. In the past, golf balls were made from wood, feathers and tree sap, but it is a whole new ball game today. Modern golf balls combine a polybutadiene core – the same polymer used in car tyres –with a synthetic outer coating. The numerous dimples on the surface serve to reduce drag and increase lift, helping the ball land that bit closer to the hole.

Elsewhere, Robert investigates how the world’s most popular writing instrument, the pencil, is made. Over six billion pencils are produced worldwide every year, to be used by everyone from schoolchildren to astronauts. The story of the pencil begins deep underground where graphite for the lead is mined. The graphite is then ground to a powder and mixed with china clay and water before being baked and fried in oil. It is then ready to be encased in wood and sliced into individual pencil lengths. But manufacturers then face a tough battle with the pencil’s deadliest enemy – teeth. Special paints and varnishes are applied to protect the pencil from hours of heavy chewing.

Finally tonight, Robert gets behind the controls to learn how to steer a 35,000 tonne freight ship into Sydney Harbour. Luckily, the Opera House is safe during this driving lesson because Robert is only in a virtual ship at the Warsash Maritime Academy near Southampton. Here, ship’s masters and pilots come to learn the essential skills before taking charge of some of the world’s biggest vessels.

Monday 18th February at 7:30pm on five

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