Ford plant in ThailandEnlarge Photo
Ford is about to embark on an ambitious plan to streamline all of its car plants around the globe in order to boost their efficiency and see them introduce a set of common practices. Ford calls this ambitious plan the “One Manufacturing” system and hopes to have it fully implemented by 2015.
At the same time, Ford plans to add capacity around the world, including a broad expansion in the Asia Pacific Africa region, where the company will be adding nine new plants, particularly in China, over the coming years. The facilities will increase the region’s capacity to produce 2.9 million vehicles a year, part of a global plan to meet Ford’s goal of selling 8 million vehicles a year by mid-decade.
Following on from its One Ford strategy where the automaker sells one common model in each vehicle segment it competes in around the world, the new One Manufacturing system is aimed primarily at improving efficiencies and reducing costs at its plants. Ford describes the system as a single production system with the advantages of standard processes for tasks such as tracking material, delivery and maintenance, as well as greater flexibility and improved investment efficiency primarily through the use of virtual tools.
This latter feature alone is said to reduce vehicle development costs by as much as 8 percent per year. Ford is also hopeful that its new system will help it tackle over-capacity issues in certain regions such as Europe without having to shut a factory. Producing common vehicles at more locations around the globe means underutilized plants can more easily be used to produce vehicles for other markets.
One important aspect for the One Manufacturing system is a reduction in the number of vehicle platforms and components. Ford says using fewer platforms means it will be able to produce 25 percent more vehicle derivatives per plant by 2015, though it means we’ll likely lose unique vehicles like the Ford Falcon currently sold in Australia. The beloved sedan, as well as its ute and SUV variants, are speculated to be ending production in 2016 whereby they’ll be replaced by global models such as the Taurus and Explorer.