Our oldest operating assembly plant now has the latest technology, DeMars said. In Chicago, we're building vehicles that are beating expectations - right out of the gate. In last month's J.D. Power survey, the Five Hundred ranked among the top three vehicles in the full-size car segment.
And less than a half-mile away is the Chicago Manufacturing Campus. Twelve suppliers are manufacturing, sequencing and delivering parts and components to the assembly line for those three vehicles.
With the new flexible systems installed in these plants - and more coming - Ford is ready for the future, DeMars said. In fact, we can't wait.
Mass production - high-volume with limited product mix - is being replaced by flexible manufacturing systems that respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer demands.
Virtual Build Process
The company that invented the moving assembly line is again at the forefront of what can only be described as the next manufacturing revolution, DeMars said. At Ford, before we ever set foot on the plant floor with tooling and installations for a new model program, we're building vehicles in a totally digital environment.
DeMars said Ford is a leader in the Virtual Build Process. Our product designers and manufacturing engineers work together with our suppliers and plant personnel to assemble an entire vehicle on a computer screen long before the hardware comes out.
Virtual build produces improved quality and ergonomics while reducing time and cost.
The virtual build process was used in the complete development of the Fusion, Milan and Zephyr.
Another area where we're making great stride is in our commitment to the environment. By the end of this year, we will launch a robust internal process that will drive a standardized and sustainable approach to regulatory compliance, DeMars said. We're not satisfied when our manufacturing processes merely meet the letter of the law. We know we can do better. In many instances, we're already doing it.
Since 2000, water consumption at our North American manufacturing plants has decreased by more than 16 percent, resulting in a $5 million savings for the business.
At Michigan Truck, Ford is installing a Fumes-to-Fuel technology. Volatile organic compounds from the paint shop will be turned into electricity to power parts of the plant.
The technology was tested successfully earlier this month.
This fall, we'll flip the switch on the Fumes-to-Fuel system and help power Michigan Truck using emissions from our paint shop, something we've had to collect and incinerate in the past, he said. Here again, we're doing something good for the environment and good for the business.
Ford Motor Company's flexible manufacturing systems have the ability to build up to eight different models off two independent platforms.
Our new systems standardize the assembly process, improves productivity, eliminates waste and boosts quality, DeMars said.
Another benefit from flexible manufacturing is greater stability.
By the end of the decade in North America, 75 percent of Ford's body shops, paint, trim and final assembly operations will be flexible.
Over time, we expect to save up to $2 billion dollars because flexible systems cost 10 to 15 percent less than traditional systems, with an added 50 percent savings in changeover costs, DeMars said.
Ford works closely with its suppliers to receive quality components and sub-assemblies in sequence and just-in-time.
With our focus on getting the product that the customer wants out the door, everything needs to come together at just the right time and in the right place, DeMars said. It's like one big waltz.
This is why we've found it beneficial to have our suppliers located as close to our plants as possible.
The Chicago Manufacturing Campus, which houses 12 major automotive suppliers, provides 60% of Chicago's inventory with just-in-time deliveries.
The reduced inventory and transportation costs flow through to Ford, the suppliers and ultimately, to customers.
Parks like this work because the relationship we have with our suppliers is mutually beneficial. They have a tremendous impact on the quality, delivery and cost of vehicles.
(June 14, 2005)