Ford plans to boost global production capacity by about 30% as it increases its global flexible manufacturing to produce an average of four different models at each plant around the world by 2017.

Its largest manufacturing expansion in 50 years - announced as it marked 100 years since founder Henry Ford pioneered the moving assembly line -  will see eight new assembly plants and six new powertrain plants establshed worldwide.

New engineering and manufacturing techniques will include 3D printing, advanced prototyping, robotics and virtual simulation.

Ford also projected 90% of its plants would on a three shift model by 2017 which would help increase production time more than 30%.

B7 2017, virtually all Ford vehicles will be built on nine core platforms, boosting manufacturing efficiency. There are currently 15.

Though it is closing its plant in Belgium, Ford nonetheless plans to produce 6m vehicles in 2013.

In 2014, it will open an engine plant in Brazil, a third assembly plant and a transmission plant in Chongqing, China, plus an additional assembly plant and engine plant in Sanand, India.

The following year, it will open another Chinese assembly plant in Hangzhou and add an engine plant at its vehicle assembly joint venture Ford Sollers in Elabuga, Russia.

New technologies

Meanwhile, the automaker is working on new manufacturing technologies such as a patented technology to rapidly form sheet metal parts for low volume production. The technology, known as Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology, or F3T, will lower costs and speed delivery times for prototype stamping moulds – within three business days versus two to six months for prototypes made using conventional methods.

The automaker is also expanding 3D printing which creates production-representative 3D parts layer by layer for testable prototypes. 3D printing can create multiple versions of one part at a time and deliver prototype parts to engineers for testing in days rather than months.

Robotic innovations improve vehicle quality and production efficiencies. For example, the company’s new dirt detection system uses robotic vision to create a digital model of each vehicle in final assembly to analyse paint and surface imperfections in comparison with a perfect model. The result has been significantly improved surface quality and more time for operators on the assembly line to address complex issues.

Using a 'virtual factory', the company can improve quality and cut costs in manufacturing facilities by creating and analysing computer simulations of the complete vehicle production process. This includes simulations of how assembly line workers have to reach and stretch when building a vehicle to ensure the work conditions meet ergonomic standards. Since the implementation of this virtual process in 2001, the number of ergonomic issues during physical builds has been reduced by nearly 20%.

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FORD CELEBRATES 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MOVING ASSEMBLY LINE WITH NEW GOALS FOR ADVANCED, FLEXIBLE MANUFACTURING

By 2017, Ford will increase its global flexible manufacturing to produce on average four different models at each plant around the world

Largest manufacturing expansion in 50 years with eight new assembly plants and six new powertrain plants globally to support growth and retain approximately 130,000 manufacturing jobs around the world

Ford ramping up new advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing, advanced prototyping, robotics and virtual simulation to lead the next generation of manufacturing


As today marks the 100th anniversary of the moving assembly line invented by Ford Motor Company under the leadership of Henry Ford, the company is building on its legacy of innovation by expanding advanced manufacturing capabilities and introducing groundbreaking technologies that could revolutionize mass production for decades to come.


Ford is rapidly expanding its advanced manufacturing capabilities and boosting global production to meet surging consumer demand. By 2017, Ford will increase its global flexible manufacturing to produce on average four different models at each plant around the world to allow for greater adaptability based on varying customer demand. Ford also projects 90 percent of its plants around the world will be running on a three-shift or crew model by 2017, which will help increase production time more than 30 percent.


“One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather had a vision to build safe and efficient transportation for everyone,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “I am proud he was able to bring the freedom of mobility to millions by making cars affordable to families and that his vision of serving people still drives everything we do today.”


Also in 2017, virtually all Ford vehicles will be built off nine core platforms, boosting manufacturing efficiency, while giving customers the features, fuel efficiency and technology they want anywhere in the world. Today, Ford builds vehicles on 15 platforms and has the freshest lineup in the industry.


“Henry Ford’s core principles of quality parts, workflow, division of labor and efficiency still resonate today,” said John Fleming, Ford executive vice president of global manufacturing. “Building on that tradition, we’re accelerating our efforts to standardize production, make factories more flexible and introduce advanced technologies to efficiently build the best vehicles possible at the best value for our customers no matter where they live.”


Ford’s recent expansions in global manufacturing and production have helped to retain 130,000 hourly and salaried jobs around the world.


They also put the company on pace to produce 6 million vehicles in 2013 – approximately 16 vehicles every 60 seconds around the world. By 2015, Ford will have opened the facilities below:


2011: Ford Sollers Elabuga Assembly Plant – Russia

2012: Ford Sollers Naberezhnye Chelny Assembly Plant – Russia

2012: Chongqing #2 Assembly Plant – China

2012: Craiova Engine Plant – Romania

2012: Ford Thailand Motors – Thailand

2013: Chongqing Engine Plant – China

2013: Nanchang Assembly – China

2014: Camaçari Engine Plant – Brazil

2014: Chongqing #3 Assembly Plant – China

2014: Chongqing Transmission – China

2014: Sanand Assembly Plant – India

2014: Sanand Engine Plant – India

2015: Hangzhou Assembly – China

2015: Ford Sollers Elabuga Engine Plant – Russia

An innovation that changed the world

One hundred years ago today, Henry Ford and his team at Highland Park assembly plant launched the world’s greatest contribution to manufacturing – the first moving assembly line. It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.


The new process revolutionized production and dropped the assembly time for a single vehicle from 12 hours to about 90 minutes.


By reducing the money, time and manpower needed to build cars as he refined the assembly line over the years, Ford was able to drop the price of the Model T from $850 to less than $300. For the first time in history, quality vehicles were affordable to the masses. Eventually, Ford built a Model T every 24 seconds and sold more than 15 million worldwide by 1927, accounting for half of all automobiles then sold.


“Ford’s new approach spread rapidly, not only to other automakers but also to manufacturers of phonographs, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and other consumer goods,” said Bob Casey, former curator of transportation at The Henry Ford, and author of The Model T: A Centennial History. “The assembly line became the characteristic American mode of production.”


In 1914, Ford instituted the “$5 workday,” a significant wage at the time, to enable his employees to buy the vehicles they built. The move created loyalty among Ford workers and is credited with giving rise to a new middle class of consumers unencumbered by geography, free to travel the open roads, to live where they please and chase the American dream.


Ford fans today are honoring Henry Ford and his ingenious moving assembly line. National Geographic Channel will mark the occasion with an in-depth new documentary as part of its “Ultimate Factories” program airing Friday, Oct. 18. Information about the documentary and local air times can be found here.


For additional information, graphics, images and video on Ford’s moving assembly line, please visit media.ford.com.


New technologies shape the future

Ford already is realizing the benefits of advanced manufacturing technologies that will shape the future. For example, Ford engineers are developing a highly flexible, first-of-its-kind, patented technology to rapidly form sheet-metal parts for low-volume production use. The technology, known as Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology, or F3T, will lower costs and speed delivery times for prototype stamping molds – within three business days versus two to six months for prototypes made using conventional methods.


Additionally, Ford is expanding its capabilities in 3D printing, which creates production-representative 3D parts layer by layer for testable prototypes. With 3D printing, Ford can create multiple versions of one part at a time and deliver prototype parts to engineers for testing in days rather than months.


Ford also is investing in robotic innovations to improve vehicle quality and production efficiencies. For example, the company’s new dirt detection system uses robotic vision to create a digital model of each vehicle in final assembly to analyze paint and surface imperfections in comparison with a perfect model. The result has been significantly improved surface quality on Ford vehicles and more time for operators on the assembly line to address complex issues. Robotics, in this case, allow Ford to work smarter in improving products for customers and allowing workers to focus on more critical thinking tasks.


Finally, through Ford’s “virtual factory,” the company can improve quality and cut costs in real-world manufacturing facilities by creating and analyzing computer simulations of the complete vehicle production process. This includes simulations of how assembly line workers have to reach and stretch when building a vehicle to ensure the work conditions meet Ford ergonomic standards. Since the implementation of this virtual process in 2001, the number of ergonomic issues during physical builds has been reduced by nearly 20 percent.


“Technologies such as 3D printing, robotics and virtual manufacturing may live in research but have real-world applications for tomorrow and beyond,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation. “We use Henry Ford’s spirit of innovation as a benchmark for bringing new technologies into the manufacturing process.”

Original source: Ford

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