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Ford Improves Plants' Efficiency
Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.’s 11 North American assembly plants are humming at 135 percent efficiency, which could grow as the automaker continues to fine-tune manufacturing processes.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of North and South America operations, says the company continues to look for ways to eke out extra production of cars, crossovers and trucks.

“We’re very comfortable with where we are in North America,” Hinrichs said in a telephone interview Friday before an event at Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, where Ford is moving production of some medium-duty commercial trucks later this year. “We have some room to go up further, but at the same time we’re already getting a lot of leverage out of our plants.”

Ford’s 135 percent capacity utilization rate is based on an industry-standard definition: 100 percent capacity is two eight-hour shifts working five days a week, excluding holidays. Six of Ford’s 11 North American assembly plants — including eight in the U.S., two in Mexico and one in Canada — are running three-shift operations. Two others run three shifts in their paint and body shops.

By comparison, nine of General Motors Co.’s 17 North American assembly plants and four of Chrysler Group LLC’s 11 plants are running three shifts. Both have capacity utilization rates just north of 100 percent.

Last year Ford added a second shift at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant. And upcoming production of F-650 and F-750 commercial trucks at Avon Lake will fill a production gap vacated by the wind-down of E-Series van production later this year. Ford is investing $168 million at the Cleveland-area plant to make the change.

“It’s very clear that our customers prefer to deal with one-stop shop across their truck lineup,” said Hinrichs of the decision to move commercial truck production from a joint-venture plant in Mexico to Ohio. “We made the decision to take the design and engineering and build the trucks in-house, inside Ford, consistent with our whole F-Series lineup.”

Ford plans to introduce 16 vehicles in North America this year, the most new products in any one year of the automaker's 111-year history.

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Good read, thanks!

Solidifies what I already suspected/thought, Ford is right around the volume/market-share they want to be, thus their continued good net margins.

What is weird, is GM is only at 100%, yet they have 9 of 17 running 3 shifts, the 8 other plants have to be in the 70% range.

What happens with the next economic slowdown? Ford is sitting pretty.

The only thing that would hurt them at this point is if SAAR grew a lot, they would be forced to give-up a bit of market-share.
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