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2009 MANAGEMENT BRIEFING SEMINARS

Ford cuts factory retrofit spending 50% over two years, exec says
- AutoNews.com


David Barkholz
Automotive News
August 4, 2009 - 1:06 pm ET
UPDATED: 8/4/09 1:40 p.m. ET

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co. has cut its capital costs for factories and vehicle-building equipment by 50 percent over the past two years, said Bruce Hettle, Ford's executive director of manufacturing engineering.

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Hettle said at the Management Briefing Seminars here today that Ford achieved the savings by standardizing manufacturing processes globally and by relying on suppliers to a greater degree to engineer parts.

Hettle said the strategy is on display in the production of the Ford Fiesta compact car. The assembly plants for building the Fiesta in China and Mexico are exactly the same. They have identical assembly lines, body shops and paint shops that use a new process that eliminates the need to dry primer coats before top coats are added, he said.

When Michigan Assembly in suburban Detroit begins production in several months of a new compact-segment vehicle, it will have the same layout and equipment as the Fiesta-building plants, Hettle said.

"We're starting to get the value from our global scale," he said.

Hettle declined to detail the total dollars spent annually by Ford to outfit its factories for vehicle production.

Ford only over the past two years has truly used its global resources to speed vehicle design and find the cost-savings available from standardizing production processes, he said.

For example, Ford at its Fiesta plants has reduced the floor space needed for the body shops by more than 30 percent versus a traditional Ford body shop, he said.

A tighter manufacturing configuration typically requires less machines and the non-valued added transportation of parts, said Ted Brown, vice president and general manager of powertrain systems at Comau North America.

Brown said Comau is working with Ford on a development project to tightly cluster machines in cells to assemble cylinder heads for engines. The process, which is already used at a Caterpillar subsidiary in England, eliminates the need for long assembly lines traditionally used for that type of manufacturing, Brown said.

Brown also presented at the conference today. Comau is a wholly owned factory-equipment subsidiary of Fiat S.p.A.

Standardization and designing factory tools simultaneously with the development of the vehicle has improved quality, in addition to the cost savings, Hettle said.

Over 24 months, he said, Ford has reduced factory problems at vehicle launches by 80 percent.
 

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Mercury C557
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HOW: Ford will Cut Factory RetroFit $$ by 50% - FreePress

...&
Michigan Assembly to get Ford's best manufacturing systems - DetroitFreePress

BY BRENT SNAVELY • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER • August 4, 2009

When Ford Motor Co’s Michigan Assembly Plant reopens next year it will feature several of Ford’s improved systems, Bruce Hettle, Ford’s executive director of global vehicle operations said today.

Ford is spending $550 million to transform Michigan Assembly from a plant that used to build the Expedition and Navigator SUVs into a plant that will begin building the European version of the compact Ford Focus during the second half of next year.

Hettle, who spoke today at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, said Ford plans to install its newest version of its flexible body shop, a new painting process as well as its new final assembly system at Michigan Assembly, and will be one of Ford's most technologically advanced plants when opens.

All three of the processes are the result of Ford’s global effort to reduce costs, improve efficiency and put those systems in place at all of its plants around the world, including its plants in Cuautitlan, Mexico, and Nanjing, China.

Hettle said Ford’s success depends on spending its capital investment dollars more efficiently and finding ways to both cut costs and improve manufacturing quality.

“I’ve watched our transformation from investment efficiency go from a buzzword in something that the finance community would discuss 24 months ago to being a way of life with every employee at Ford,” Hettle said. “We have to stretch every dollar, particularly given our corporate strategy to distinguish ourselves, and self-fund our plan.”

Ford’s new body shop configuration takes up half the space of previous configurations and also costs about 50% less, Hettle said. (bolding by 2b2)

Ford also has developed a new “three-wet,” painting system that debuted more than a year ago at its assembly in Avon Lake. The system applies three layers of paint at one time and only needs to go through the drying process once, cutting off about a quarter of the time needed and improves paint quality.

“We believe (paint) is really, really important to the customer, and we are spending a lot of time there,” Hettle said.
 

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Why no mention of the Euro plants being part of this ditto system?
Re-"three-wet" painting system, etc.

I still find the "One Ford" moniker being preached is still far from being "One Ford"

EG: When I was in Canada the past three weeks, dropped into quite a few dealers and was asking question pertaining to this "One Ford" theory and came away with the perception that Ford Canada could be located in Siberia, and not as the next door neighbour of Ford USA.

And I made it a point to speak with dealership managers, as I know most salespersons are only interested in what is happening today, never mind 1-2 years down the road.
 

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WHAT Ford will DO with Factory RetroFits by 2012/14 - DetroitNews

also from the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars...

Ford to refresh most of lineup over next three years - DetroitNews

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
Thursday, August 6, 2009

Traverse City -- Ford Motor Co.'s chief financial officer Lewis Booth said the company plans to refresh 70 to 90 percent of its vehicle lineups by volume in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa by 2012.

"In the worst of economic times, we are taking the actions necessary not only to strengthen Ford's business but also to deliver world-class levels of product freshness globally," Booth said.

Booth told reporters that vehicles are like doughnuts -- they don't get better with age. "We're going to have fresh products," Booth said. "I don't know -- what's the world's best doughnut? (The vehicles) are going to be the Krispy Kremes of the world."

By 2014, the average Ford vehicle's age will be shrunk by 20 percent, he said.

Booth said during his speech at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars here that the Dearborn automaker is on pace to reduce its structural costs by $14 billion to $15 billion compared with 2005. Ford has lowered new vehicle engineering costs by 60 percent and reduced new facility and tooling costs by 40 percent, he said.

Booth also said Ford expects to build 680,000 vehicles per core global platform within five years, up from 345,000 today. By 2012, 78 percent of Ford's global volume will be on core platforms, up from 29 percent in 2007.
 

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Just to add something I thought was interesting. There is a show in National Geographic called Factory Floor, and they showed an automobile manufacturing facility that was amazing. Unfortunately it was Hyundai, but I am pretty sure every auto manufacturer is closely the same. Everything is robotic till almost 1/2 way completion. I wonder where all of this money is going to when I see this and see a lot of robotics.
 
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