Ford Motor Co. is adding more sites in emerging markets around the world and is overhauling its production methods for more flexibility and lesser plant downtime, company officials remarked during a ceremony marking 100 years of Henry Ford's moving assembly line. The carmaker will add new assembly plants in China and India and new powertrain plants in Brazil, China, India and Russia by 2015.
The US carmaker disclosed that it is cutting the number of global vehicle platforms to nine from 15 by 2017. It is also planning to produce an average of four different vehicles per plant in order to improve efficiency, cut costs and respond quicker to changing consumer tastes. Ford is aiming to further improve its manufacturing flexibility and speed by adopting advanced techniques like 3D printing of prototype parts.
Ford said in a statement that 90 percent of its global sites by 2017 will operate virtually around the clock on three shifts a day, resulting to a boost in production run time by over 30 percent.
Ford is planning to roll out 114 models globally over the next five years. John Fleming, Ford’s executive vice president of global manufacturing, remarked during the ceremony that some inventions in auto industry still play a major role, like the production.
He noted that the production line was needed for the development of the mass manufacturing model that is now common among carmakers. Fleming disclosed that around 95 percent of Ford’s body shops and welding operations are automated, while paint shops are fully robotic. He noted that there will always be a combination of humans and automation at auto plants. [source: Ford]