Ford Motor Co. is aiming to reduce costs and improve quality. To accomplish this, Ford is implementing a new manufacturing standard at its plants worldwide. For example, Ford doesn’t use forklifts at its recently opened $450-million plant in Thailand, its newest factory. Ford wants to make its floor safer for workers and forklifts just have very big blind spots.
Instead, Ford will make use of trolleys to carry parts to workers on the line. This change is just one way for Ford to build more vehicles on shared global platforms. Ford is currently testing these methods at Ford Thailand Manufacturing, which produces the Focus compact for the local market and at other countries located in southeast Asia.
Ford aims to someday use similar practices at its other plants worldwide, which include several plants in the U.S. When interviewed last Friday, John Fleming, Ford's head of global manufacturing and labor affairs, said that Thailand is the first of several facilities that will have the same look and feel.
A three-dimensional scanner is used by workers at the Rayong factory near Bangkok to examine auto parts for fit and quality issues. In addition, this factory uses a way of drying paint that uses just one oven rather than two.
Creating just one system of assembling vehicles is a part of the "One Ford" strategy of CEO Alan Mulally to unify Ford’s once-disconnected business units.
Fleming said that Ford is already experiencing the cost benefits of making global manufacturing standards. He added that there is a 60% drop in the "second cycle" investment costs, which refer to those involved in the redesign of existing vehicles like the Focus. He said that when no standards are used, it is highly difficult to replicate good ideas but now, these can be used as “best practices."