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Old 12-03-2002, 21:57   #1 (permalink)
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A Model For Manufacturing:

Ford gives a glimpse of upgrades at Rouge
December 4, 2002
BY MARK PHELAN
DETROIT FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

New assembly plant to make F150 truck

Ford Motor Co. opened the doors Tuesday to what it hopes will become a model for manufacturing around the world -- the company's 85-year-old Rouge Complex.

After a $2-billion investment program that has seen the construction of a new assembly plant and upgrades to several other manufacturing facilities at the sprawling site at the confluence of the Rouge and Detroit rivers, the aged assembly complex will shortly become Ford's model for environmentally benevolent manufacturing and efficient manufacturing.

A new assembly plant at the site will begin producing the company's most important product, the F150 full-size pickup truck, in spring 2004. Ford provided the media their first glimpse of the plant Tuesday. Over the next year, it will fill the now-empty building with hundreds of robots and other machinery. More than 2,000 people are expected to work there.

The Rouge complex will then embody Ford Chairman and CEO William Clay Ford Jr.'s vision of industrial manufacturing for the 21st Century, just as it realized his great-grandfather's vision of automaking for the 20th Century when it opened in 1918.

"For years, there was no reinvestment in Rouge," UAW Local 600 President Jerry Sullivan said of the plant, which was a candidate for complete closure as recently as 1999.

"Once again, Rouge will be famous around the world. People will come here to learn about the environment and manufacturing. The best years for Rouge are still ahead."

In spite of its highly flexible manufacturing system and many features designed to reduce the plant's environmental impact, the project actually cost less than building a conventional assembly plant, said Tim O'Brien, Ford vice president for real estate.

"We had to make a business case for everything we did," he said, citing innovations like a roof covered with living sedum grass, which will reduce stormwater runoff into the nearby rivers and cut the plant's energy costs by 5 percent by providing insulation from summer's heat and winter's cold. The grass roof should also last up to 40 years, about twice as long as a conventional roof, he said.

The roof and other Earth-friendly aspects of the design "don't cost us money, they save," he said.

The complex will include gardens and wetlands with thousands of newly planted trees, flowers and shrubs. It will also incorporate a memorial to the six workers killed in an explosion at the Rouge powerhouse in 1999.

The new Dearborn truck plant will be Ford's most flexible assembly plant. It will be capable of building nine different models from three different platforms.

Theoretically, the plant could build an F150 four-wheel-drive truck, a front-wheel-drive minivan and a rear-drive car one after the other. No assembly plant in the world has that level of flexibility, although some con******ts argue that only Ford and General Motors Corp. have a diverse enough product range to need it.

Ford says the flexible assembly system will allow it to react quickly to changes in demand. For instance, if higher fuel prices reduced demand for full-size trucks like the F150, Ford could switch the output to high-mileage cars almost overnight, company executives said.

The flexible manufacturing equipment will save the company money over its lifetime, said Roman Krygier, Ford vice president for manufacturing and quality.

Ford will pay about 10 percent less initially for the tooling, and save another 50 percent by continuing to use it as the company introduces new vehicles, he said.

Ford's $2 billion redevelopment of the Rouge complex includes the truck assembly plant, a new paint shop, a new plant to assemble four-cylinder engines, new stamping presses and a new facility to produce truck frames.

Ford will demolish the existing Mustang assembly plant at the Rouge. The Mazda plant in Flat Rock is rumored to be a candidate to take over Mustang assembly for the 2004 model year.

Henry Ford I created a model for manufacturing around the world when the Rouge complex opened in 1918.

Automakers as far away as the Soviet Union copied the Rouge model of fully integrated manufacturing, where virtually every part of the car was produced on site by Ford. At its peak, more than 100,000 people worked at Rouge, compared with about 6,000 today.

The factory was famous as a place where raw iron ore entered at its docks and completed cars rolled off the assembly line at the other end. It contained 120 miles of conveyors and the 93 buildings on the site enclosed 15,767,708 square feet, or nearly 362 acres.

The decades of heavy industrial use left the Rouge environmentally ravaged, and the site eventually became the poster child for the ills of heavy manufacturing. Advances like just-in-time parts deliveries from suppliers made the complex's original purpose of producing everything but the tires on-site obsolete, while the shifting market changed the emphasis from building huge numbers of a single model to producing a wide variety of different vehicles.

The Rouge originally produced Eagle Boats for the U.S. Navy.
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Old 12-03-2002, 22:05   #2 (permalink)
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ATTRACTIONS: Tours of Ford plant will resume in 2004

December 4, 2002
BY FRANK PROVENZANO
DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

The world's largest automobile manufacturing center, Dearborn's Rouge complex, is about to become a tourist attraction again.

Tuesday, Ford announced it will fund Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village's public tours of the new, state-of-the-art plant as part of its $2-billion investment in factory at its 1,100-acre site. Tours are to begin in spring 2004, several months after the plant is completed.

The Rouge complex is the birthplace of the Model A assembly line and the magnet of opportunity that attracted workers from around the world to the cultural melting pot of metro Detroit. It is also home to an assembly plant that auto industry analysts call the future of environmentally responsible manufacturing.

"People will see the complexity of how vehicles are made," said Roger Gaudette, manager of construction at the Ford Rouge Center. "This isn't a commercial for Ford but a statement about the region's heritage."

Details of the tours came on the day when Ford displayed the redesigned 2003 F150 truck which, along with the Ranger pickups and possibly the Explorer, will be assembled at the plant. The F150 truck is America's best-selling vehicle.

Highlights of the 1 1/2-hour tour:


After parking at the museum, a 15-minute shuttle ride will take visitors to the plant. Along the way, an overview will be presented on the reasons the Rouge complex is a national historic landmark.

A short film will be shown in the on-site visitor center using archival images and background on the features of the new pollution controls at the assembly plant. It will also mention the infamous pollution of the Rouge River and the early struggles between management and labor.

A digital film virtual experience will simulate contemporary manufacturing, from feeling the heat of a furnace blast to seeing the installation of a windshield. The theater features a circular screen with seats that swivel 360 degrees.

An elevator ride will go to the top of the plant for a panoramic view of the facility.

A quarter-mile walking tour will be along a ramp 16 feet above the plant floor.

Interactive kiosks will be stationed at each stage of assembly.

A showroom will have legendary Ford vehicles, including the Model A, Mustang and the F150.
"We need cultural attractions that link the past to the present as a way to distinguish our community," said Steve Hamp, president of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, which was created by automotive pioneer Henry Ford. "Making cars is who we are, and we can't ignore it."

If the tours of the Ford plant inspire other ventures at the region's historic sites and manufacturing centers, it could transform the local tourism economy, said Renee Monforton, spokeswoman at the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"Auto tourism is by far the most requested event to see from people inquiring about traveling to Detroit," she said. "People want to come to Detroit to see how cars are built, and we have to live up to our brand as the world capital of the auto industry."

A 10-year economic impact projection created last year by the bureau's Tourism Economic Development Council points to the promise of the region's cultural tourism. Revenue from tourist attractions at the Ford plant and other possible historic sites -- such as the highly anticipated expanded Motown Museum -- could bring an additional $3 billion to the projected $4.6 billion over the period, Monforton said.

Coming within a year of 19 layoffs at Greenfield Village, and a month after the defeat of a proposed property tax increase that would have provided $4 million annually to the museum, the partnership with Ford provides a new model of how museums need to become more entrepreneurial, said David Littmann, chief economist for Comerica Bank.

"This is the type of link that will continue to raise revenue for the museum during the ups and downs of the state economy," he said. "The museum has found a niche, and a natural tie-in to the heritage of our economic pre-eminence."

Revenue from tour ticket sales will go to the museum. No ticket price has been set. It's expected that demand will far exceed the 250,000 people annually who toured the Rouge complex in the final years before tours ended in 1980.

At peak periods of employment, more than 100,000 people worked at the plant, which opened for public tours in 1924.

"Inside looked like fire and brimstone, and a bit of magic," says Mike Smith, director of the Walter P. Reuther Library, who recalled touring the Rouge plant when he was an elementary school student in Garden City. "In one end went the steel. Out the other, came a polished car."

The story of the Rouge complex shouldn't solely focus on manufacturing innovations, he said.

"That plant is a symbol of the ongoing trials and tribulations of organized labor," said Smith, who noted that it's the site of the infamous Battle of the Overpass in 1937, when labor organizers were beaten by Ford's security forces.

"Generations of Detroiters passed through the Rouge," he said. "It's the place that gave birth to our gritty, industrial attitude.'
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Old 12-04-2002, 05:57   #3 (permalink)
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NEW DEARBORN TRUCK PLANT HERALDS ERA OF LEAN, FLEXIBLE MANUFACTURING

When the new Dearborn Truck Plant (DTP) begins operations in 2004, it will be more than the home of the new 2004 Ford F-150. It will signal an expansion of the company’s manufacturing vision and the first major step toward making the legendary Ford Rouge Center an industrial icon of the 21st century.

The plant will be the flagship of Ford’s next-generation lean and flexible manufacturing facilities.

It will be capable of producing up to nine different models from three vehicle platforms, making it Ford’s most flexible North American assembly plant.
The number of workstations in the assembly process will be reduced by nearly 40 percent.
Storage space for components and vehicles will be reduced by 50 percent.
DTP will have no more than two hours of line-side parts and inventory, and 10 hours of off-line component inventory space. Normal inventory supply for most assembly plants is one to two days or more.
Construction of the new plant is scheduled to be completed in 2003, with 2004 Ford F-150 production beginning in 2004. It’s the first new assembly plant Ford has built in North America since 1986.
Flexibility Flagship

Dearborn Truck Plant is a key example of Ford’s commitment to establish a next-generation flexible manufacturing system in its North American assembly operations. By mid-decade, about half of Ford’s body shops, trim and final assembly operations will be flexible. That number will rise to 75 percent by the end of the decade. The system is expected to save the company $1.5 billion to $2 billion in the coming decade.


DTP’s flexible features include the ability to:

Quickly change the plant’s production according to customer demand.
Convert to new products with minimal investment and changeover loss.
Easily retool, and reprogram robots and computers for rapid changeover on the plant floor.

“With increasing market segmentation, Ford’s new flexible assembly system means the company can react more quickly to meet shifting customer demand,” said Al Ver, vice president, Ford Advanced and Manufacturing Engineering. “The company will be able to produce a wider variety of vehicles, change the mix of products and options, and change volumes – faster and with minimal costs.”

Lean Manufacturing

The Dearborn Truck Plant will have world-class lean manufacturing using Synchronous Material Flow (SMF) to support team-based production processes. These processes are designed to provide outstanding quality and minimize waste in a safe work environment that emphasizes employee empowerment. Vehicles will be manufactured at the lowest cost in the shortest time possible.


“Quality is built in at each workstation based on these standardized work processes and a clear understanding of the customer’s expectation,” said Jay Richardson, Rouge project manager, Ford Vehicle Operations.

Although many plants use SMF to synchronize vehicle and supplier production at the same rate of customer demand, the Dearborn Truck Plant will use a combination of material delivery systems. These include In-line Vehicle Sequencing and an Automatic Sequence and Retrieval system that are both designed to sequence units into a predictable schedule. This allows Ford suppliers to more precisely plan deliveries and allows the plant to optimize efficiency. As part of a new fast-paced delivery system, truck docks allow material unloading within a 15-minute window.

Ford’s team-based organization delivers components to the line at the same rate as product flow and is committed to build to a specific schedule. By using proactive problem solving and a key element called In-Station Process Control, line operators have the responsibility for producing a product with no quality issues when it leaves their work cell.

All of these processes result in reducing the number of workstations in the assembly process by nearly 40 percent. Storage space for components and vehicles will be cut by 50 percent. The plant will have no more than two hours of line-side parts and inventory and 10 hours of off-line components.

“The crux of the change is the way people work and they way machinery is organized,” said Anne Stevens, vice president, Ford North America Vehicle Operations. “Lean manufacturing is all about people and the way they use technology.”

Employee Involvement

The company utilized the expertise of plant operators at Dearborn Assembly Plant (DAP) who will transfer to the new DTP to help design the new workstations in final assembly operations. Since they know best what it’s like to work on the line, DAP operators and skilled trades workers have been working with DTP’s launch team on designing and testing standardized work cells and tools. Among their goals is to enhance quality, cut costs and promote employee safety.


To create a lean and high-quality facility, empowered workers at DTP, and the other Ford plants, will have a continuing impact on how their jobs are done. Typically in a plant, supervisors manage operators. In Ford’s inverted pyramid system, operators work in teams of six to eight, with a team leader. Supervisors are manufacturing advisers, supporting the operators and their team leaders. Operators assume roles of responsibility and decision-making. Their motto: Zero defects. Zero waste.

Pleasant Work Environment

One of the guiding design principles of the new plant is employee safety and comfort. In the Final Assembly building, mezzanine levels and overhead walkways will cut pedestrian traffic on the floor. The aisles will be wide (18-21 feet versus the usual 12 feet) and clear of parts or components. Forklifts will not be allowed in the production areas.

The building’s design produces a clean, quiet and well-lit environment. Inside, an air-tempering system, aided by the living roof, will keep the interior at least 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature in the summer and 10 degrees warmer in winter. Natural light from the 10 roof monitors and 36 skylights will flood the Final Assembly building’s 1.7 million-square-foot interior.

The building also includes people-friendly features such as overhead safety walkways, team rooms and relaxing places to congregate.

The plant will be quieter, because the noise of churning conveyors and whizzing pneumatic tools will be gone. Instead of unwieldy and noisy pneumatic gear, DTP will employ electric power tools.

Ford has been a leader in ergonomics, and that continues to play a major role in the design of new jobs and tools. The new tools translate into less stress and strain on operator arms and wrists. In fact, very few operators will need to work with their hands above their heads or stoop to do a job below their knees. Operators will ride on skillets as they work. Skillets are individual pallets for every vehicle, and some are capable of adjusting to each operator’s height and work activities as the vehicle moves from work cell to work cell.

“The new Dearborn Truck Plant will be a world-class facility that builds on our manufacturing legacy at the Rouge, one of the enduring symbols of the industrial age,” said Roman Krygier, group vice president, Ford Global Manufacturing and Quality.
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