Flexible Manufacturing Comes To Life At Chicago Assembly With Three New Vehicles
Source: Ford Motor Company Press Release
- Ford's oldest operating plant boasts newest technology, producing three new vehicles off one platform. The plant is capable of building eight models on two platforms.
- The adjacent supplier manufacturing campus is the industry's largest and most comprehensive.
CHICAGO, Aug. 10, 2004 - After a major investment in renovation and retooling, Ford Motor Company's Chicago Assembly Plant today unveiled its new flexible manufacturing system with the production of three distinct models built off one vehicle platform.
Opened in 1924, Chicago Assembly is Ford's oldest operating plant in the world. Today, it uses the industry's latest technology in machine tooling and processes to build the all-new 2005 Ford Five Hundred, Ford Freestyle and Mercury Montego.
With its flexible body shop and final assembly area, the plant can employ the new flexible tooling to quickly change over and build up to eight different models off two vehicle platforms.
The nearby Chicago Manufacturing Campus also marked its official opening today. It is the industry's largest in size and scope. Twelve suppliers, totaling 1.5 million square feet of manufacturing and office space, are producing parts and providing logistics support at the 155-acre site, just one-half mile from the plant. "Chicago Assembly sets a new standard in today's fiercely competitive market," said Greg Smith, executive vice president and president of the Americas. "The flexible manufacturing system installed here means we can respond quickly to changes in customer demand and do so efficiently. And our supplier manufacturing campus supports our flexible manufacturing system with quick customer response time as well as lower inventory and shipping costs."
Approximately $800 million was invested by Ford Motor Company and its suppliers in the assembly plant, the supplier manufacturing site and Chicago Stamping Plant, which provides stampings for Chicago Assembly.
The Mayor's Office of Work Force Development recruited and trained some 600 new employees of the Chicago Manufacturing Campus. Total employment at Ford's two Chicago plants and the supplier campus is 5,600.
"This shows what can happen when business, government and labor work together," said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. "We're creating jobs for the hard-working people of Chicago, improving the environment, restoring abandoned land to productive use and solidifying Chicago's position as the nation's number-one manufacturing center."
Earlier this year, Chicago Assembly ceased production of the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, which it had been building since 1985, to install its new flexible system. The plant's body shop underwent a 100,000-square-foot expansion to include such technological advances as:
- Laser welding for improved structural body rigidity. The laser welding replaced spot welding for roof-to-body weld joints, eliminating the need for access holes in the body side for spot welding.
- In-Line Coordinate Measuring Machines for real-time data collection. The machine inspects and records quality data on all critical body dimensions at a rate of one per hour as the units move through the assembly process versus three units per day with the traditional inspection method.
- The Center of Excellence is dedicated to checking all components and optimizing part-to-part coordination. Previously on prior models, Chicago Assembly focused of the coordination of sheet metal components only. This new approach focuses on the coordination of the entire vehicle.
Renovation and new technology installations in Chicago Assembly make the facility Ford's first flexible manufacturing car plant in North America. Assembly plants in Norfolk, Va., Kansas City, Mo., and the new Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich., are fully flexible plants. The company has committed to transforming 75 percent of its North American manufacturing plants into flexible facilities by the end of the decade.
The 2005 Ford Five Hundred, Ford Freestyle and Mercury Montego are the first vehicles produced at Chicago under the new flexible system. A fourth product, a Mercury crossover, will be produced here at a future date.
The innovative Chicago Manufacturing Campus is home to the following suppliers: Brose North America Inc. (door components); Decoma International Inc., (exterior components); Facil LLC (fasteners); Flex-N-Gate (steel stamped components); Lear Corp. (headliners); Plastech Engineered Products Inc. (injected and blow molded plastics); Summit Polymers Inc. (injected plastics); S-Y Systems Technologies America LLC, (wiring); TDS Automotive Inc. (logistic services); Tower Automotive Inc. (stampings); Visteon Corp. (instrument panels, bolsters, HVAC components and fuel tanks); and ZF Lemforder Corp. (suspension).
Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Dearborn, Mich., is one of the world's
largest automakers, with approximately 318,000 employees in 200 markets on six
continents. Its automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover,
Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford
Credit, Quality Care and Hertz. Ford Motor Company observed its 100th anniversary
on June 16, 2003.