Ford Motor Company today announced it is investing $335 million in its Lima (Ohio) Engine Plant to build an all-new, modern fuel-efficient 3.5-liter V-6 engine.
The sophisticated, all-aluminum dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) 24-valve Duratec 35 V-6 engine will power a variety of future Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, including passenger cars and crossover vehicles. Annual production capacity is projected to be up to 325,000 engines a year. Production of the new engine will begin at the Lima plant by the end of 2005.
“This new V-6 will be cutting edge, truly world-class,” said Dave Szczupak, vice president, Powertrain Operations, Ford Motor Company. “Our engineers started with a clean sheet of paper to develop this new engine. It will power a variety of vehicles and includes advanced technologies such as variable-valve timing, a feature we are adding to a significant number of all our engines.”
A feature favored by many environmentalists, variable-valve timing helps to reduce emissions, improve fuel efficiency as well as idle smoothness, while at the same time maximizing performance. The variable-valve mechanism works by precisely controlling the engine’s camshaft position at any given millisecond based on engine speed and load. The investment at the Lima Engine Plant continues Ford’s move to a new cost-effective and quality-enhancing global flexible manufacturing system to build powertrains. At Lima, Ford will install a new engine assembly line, a new cylinder-block machining line, a new cylinder-head machining line as well as a new crankshaft line.
As part of the new cylinder-head machining area, Ford will install a series of “flexible” computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machines to manufacture the engine’s cylinder head. Ford also will convert its existing flexible manufacturing equipment at Lima to build crankshafts for the new V-6 engine.
“We are building a network of lean and flexible powertrain plants around the world that can respond quickly to changing market needs, while improving quality and manufacturing efficiency,” said Roman Krygier, group vice president, Global Manufacturing and Quality, Ford Motor Company. “The launch of this new V-6 will further our push into flexible manufacturing, helps us reduce costs and ensures a bright future for the Lima Engine Plant.”
Krygier said that the Lima, Ohio plant was chosen to produce the new V-6 engine because of its strong workforce and reputation for building high-quality engines. The plant has received numerous quality awards from Ford management.
“We truly have a world-class workforce here in Lima, dedicated to building high-quality engines,” said Jan Allman, plant manager of Lima Engine. “This new V-6 engine ensures we have a strong future here and a strong future for our workforce. We are also proud that later this year we will build our 36-millionth engine, our 10-millionth 3.0-liter V-6 and our 200,000th 3.9-liter V-8.”
Brett Fox, chairman, UAW Local 1219 added: “We are extremely proud to be chosen to build this all-new V-6. This is a big day for Lima, UAW Local 1219 and our employees. This program is not only important to Ford Motor Company, but it is important to the families of our workers. We look forward to a bright future of providing our customers with this great new V-6 engine.”
Ford’s New Flexible Manufacturing System
Ford currently is in the middle of a comprehensive global rollout of its new flexible manufacturing system to build cars and trucks as well as engines and transmissions.
The Lima Engine Plant was Ford’s first engine plant in North America to receive its new flexible manufacturing equipment with the installation of a flexible crankshaft machining line in 2001. The line builds cast-iron and steel crankshafts for Ford’s Duratec V-6 built in Cleveland and will be converted to also build crankshafts for Ford’s all-new 3.5-liter V-6.
Three main elements are at the core of Ford’s flexible manufacturing strategy for powertrains:
Common engine architectures;
Commonized manufacturing facilities, and;
Modern, flexible, numerically controlled machine tools (CNC machines) that can be easily retooled and reprogrammed to perform new tasks with minimal disruption to production.
The new flexible CNC machines help Ford to react quickly to changing production needs and have a total cost less than Ford’s outgoing transfer-line system.
The new CNC machines were installed last year at Ford’s Windsor (Ontario) Engine Plant to manufacture its new 3-valve cylinder head for the all-new 2004 Ford F-150 pickup. The same type of flexible CNC machines are being installed at the Lima plant to manufacture the new V-6 as well as at Ford’s Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 (2004) and Ford’s Romeo Engine Plant (2005). The new flexible system also is being installed at Ford’s Dagenham and Bridgend engine plants in the UK later this year.
Rather than requiring a complicated process of removing old-style dedicated milling or boring machines and installing new ones – which can interrupt production for months – the new machines can be retooled and reprogrammed internally, with little or no interruption in production. In many cases, this reprogramming can be accomplished over a weekend.
New Database Improves Engine Quality
During production, each engine built at Lima, Romeo, Cleveland, Dagenham and Bridgend will develop a sophisticated engine “birth history” that allows plant engineers to track every stage of production – starting even before major components such as cylinder heads arrive at the engine plant.
Ford’s engine birth history technology is currently used at Ford plants building its new global I-4 engine – Dearborn, Mich., Chihuahua, Mexico, Valencia, Spain and Mazda’s plant in Hiroshima, Japan – as well as at Ford’s Windsor and Essex (Canada) engine plants.
Each engine’s birth history is recorded on a microchip that travels with the engine, or data is maintained in a database related to a bar code. Such data include hundreds of metrics, including torque levels for specific bolts; crank journal clearances; pressure test results; and the amount of torque it takes to turn the crankshaft after all parts are bolted together.
The birth history allows engineers to trace the precise path taken by any part, so any quality control issue can be traced back to its source, and affected parts taken out of production. “This has potential to save thousands of unnecessary replacements, and spare customers considerable inconvenience,” said Allman.
The new V-6 engine, Ford’s global rollout of its new flexible manufacturing system, and its quality initiatives, are all key components of Ford’s product-led Revitalization strategy, according to Szczupak:
“This is the most dramatic change in manufacturing since the introduction of the assembly line by Henry Ford,” Szczupak said. “When you think about any great vehicle, it always has a great powertrain. It’s the heart of the vehicle. What we’re doing now with our engine manufacturing strategy is to deliver more great new powertrains to our customers more quickly, at the highest quality levels, and at the same time, at the lowest cost.”
Standardization Leads to Efficiencies
Lima’s new cylinder-head line will feature a series of CNC machines arranged in cells of up to eight machines. Cell operators will be able to monitor production at a computer workstation. Another benefit of this standardization is that each operator knows how to run all of the machines – they’re all the same – and not only can step in to other roles, but can trade information, concerns and best practices with coworkers.
These identical CNC machines can perform any of a number of functions, depending on need. That means diesel engine cylinder heads could be manufactured at the same time as two-valve or multi-valve gasoline engine heads, and each type would route itself to the machine that was equipped with the proper tooling and programs.
Since the machines are identical, Ford is able to dramatically reduce the number of spare parts kept on hand. The new plants typically have one set of shared common spares for each system, rather than each machine, which results in a huge inventory cost savings.
Every new or reworked cutting tool is measured before it is put into service, and that measurement is recorded in its memory chip. The computer-controlled machine reads this data as it loads the tool, and automatically compensates for any minor variation in tool sizes. A laser in each CNC verifies tool length every time the tool is used in production. This assures that if the tool breaks or goes out of adjustment, the machine doesn’t continue to produce parts.
“The degree of quality control that we’re getting with this new system is second-to-none,” Szczupak said. “We are verifying the quality of build throughout the process. Faults can’t pass down the line. With this degree of integrity, we can target 100-percent right, first time.”
Lima Engine Plant Background
The Lima Engine Plant, which was originally built in 1957 to manufacture V-8 engines for the Edsel, today measures 2.4 million square feet and employs more than 1,600 people.
In recent years, the Lima plant has received numerous awards from Ford management for its outstanding quality. In addition, the plant also received two awards in 2002 for its safety record from the West Central Ohio Safety Council.
The workforce of the Lima plant is involved in numerous charitable and community events in the Lima area, such as donating funds to the United Way and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
In October 2001, the plant sponsored Lima’s “Families for Families – A Celebration of America,” which was attended by more than 6,000 area residents with six New York Firefighters in attendance. Through this event, the plant and local community raised more than $100,000 for the New York and Washington, D.C. families involved in Sept. 11, 2001.
The investment at Lima was made possible due in part to state and local tax incentive commitments.