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Ford invests $75 Mill. in order to
prepare its Michigan Truck Plant for small car production
The plant will begin converting its
body shop in November when the tooling and equipment specific to
the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator will be disassembled
and transferred to Kentucky Truck Plant, which begins producing
the large SUVs in the second quarter of 2009.
The move paves the way for Michigan
Truck to convert to a car plant that will begin producing global
C-car based vehicles in 2010.
In the interim, the plant’s 1,000
employees will be transferred next door to Wayne Assembly Plant
where a third crew will be added in January to accommodate
increased production of the hot-selling Ford Focus. When
completed, Michigan Truck’s flexibility will allow it to augment
current Ford Focus production if necessary.
Michigan Truck is one of three truck
and SUV plants in North America that will be converted to build
small fuel-efficient compact and subcompact vehicles.
In 2010, Cuautitlan Assembly, which currently produces F-Series
pickups, will begin building the new Fiesta subcompact car for
North America. Louisville Assembly, home of the Ford Explorer
mid-size SUV, is slated to start production of yet more unique
small vehicles from the automaker’s global C-car platform the
At the heart of this manufacturing
transformation is a flexible operation, which uses
reprogrammable tooling in the body shop, standardized equipment
in the paint shop and common-build sequence in final assembly,
enabling production of multiple models in the same plant.
Aiding the implementation of flexible
manufacturing is Ford’s industry-leading virtual manufacturing
technology. In the virtual world, engineers and plant operators
evaluate tooling and product interfaces before costly
installations are made on the plant floor. This method of
collaboration improves launch quality and enables speed of
In a flexible body shop, at least 80 percent of
the robotic equipment can be reprogrammed to weld various sized
vehicles. This “non-product specific” equipment gives the body shop its
flexibility and provides more efficient use of the facility.
In 2005, Ford invested $300 million in Michigan
Truck to build a new, flexible body shop. That investment will help
streamline the conversion to small vehicles and will require an
additional body shop investment of approximately $75 million. This is
part of a larger investment planned for the plant. Meanwhile, Ford
continues to work with state and local governments on the scope of
Today, nearly 87 percent of Ford’s assembly
plants around the world have flexible body shops. By 2012, the number
will grow to 100 percent.
(August 22, 2008)