Dow Automotive has inaugurated a “pellet-to-part” manufacturing operation for more than 20 parts on the Brazilian-built Ford Fiesta.

Medium component injection moulding bay at Dow Automotive’s newest manufacturing facility in Bahia, Brazil. The equipment shown here moulds medium-sized interior and exterior trim components, including floor consoles.

The Fiesta parts, made in a facility adjacent to the Fiesta assembly line, and delivered on a just-in-time basis, include the front and rear ‘bumper’ fascias and various interior and exterior trim items.

Dow Automotive is also supplying large plastic instrument panel components to Visteon Corporation, another integrated full service supplier for the Brazilian Fiesta, along with a sealing product for windscreens and rear windows. All parts produced at the site are manufactured using various polypropylene resins, primarily supplied by Dow itself.

The facility employs approximately 200 employees and is the first time independent plastic part manufacturing facility that the company has operated to support one of its customers.

Dow worked closely with Ford to determine equipment and logistics specifications for the plastics manufacturing facility and developed a plan to create an operation that would provide on-site delivery of components to Ford’s assembly line in a matter of hours.

The 12,000 square metre facility currently houses a fully automated fascia paint line, 12 injection moulding machines, 2 welding machines, and related assembly equipment, all operated and maintained by Dow Automotive itself.

Ford do Brasil invested $US1.3 billion to build the new Camaçari plant opened in October 2001 to produce the Amazon Project models. The company launched the new Fiesta in Brazil last May.

The factory can build 250,000 vehicles per year (one every 80 seconds). A modular production system means suppliers, such as Dow Automotive, use their own equipment and workers to install complete set of components on the assembly line.

Moulded-in-colour instrument panel substrate
unloading operation at Dow Automotive’s
newest manufacturing facility in Bahia, Brazil.
This operation is in the large component
injection moulding bay, where fascia,
large interior trim, and wheel well liners
are also moulded. Dow Automotive
manufactures these components for
Visteon Corporation.

Each day, Ford confirms the production schedule for the next day and the component makers supply the assembly line with specific parts for each car on a just-in-time basis.

Twenty-seven suppliers have invested $US600 million on their own installations in the plant and a further six are located nearby.

The Brazilian-made Fiesta is almost the same design as the European-built European versions, differing only in details such as the headlights and absence of side indicator repeaters.

However, the engines are quite different and include the locally-made Zetec Rocam eight-valve engines in one-litre 65 hp and 1.6-litre 98 bhp versions – updated versions of the powerplants used in the old Brazilian-built Fiesta.

The new Fiesta is also offered with a new one-litre supercharged engine developing 95 hp.