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Ford Motor Company investment project, South Africa – update

Image of Ford Motor Company's stamping plant

Photo by Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa

15th July 2022

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Ford Motor Company investment project.

Location
Pretoria, in Gauteng, South Africa.

Project Owner/s
Ford Motor Company, through its Ford Motor Company Southern Africa subsidiary.

Project Description
Ford Motor Company is undertaking the biggest investment in its 97-year history in South Africa. The project is also one of the biggest-ever investments in the South African automotive industry.

The investment will increase the capacity at the Silverton plant from 168 000 to 200 000 vehicles a year, supporting the production of the new Ford Ranger pickup truck for the domestic market and exports to more than 100 global markets. The plant will also manufacture Volkswagen (VW) pickup trucks as part of the Ford-VW strategic alliance.

The project will entail extensive upgrades to the Silverton plant, which will increase production volume and drive significant improvements in production efficiency and vehicle quality. These include the construction of a new body shop with the latest robotic technology, and a new high-tech stamping plant, both of which will be located on site for the first time.

The plant will use a high-speed line to produce all the major sheet metal components for the new Ranger. It includes a fully automated storage and retrieval system for stamping dies, which will be housed in the roof of the facility, thus eliminating related labour-intensive processes. In addition, a modern blue-light scanner system, which scans surfaces for imperfections, will ensure that the highest-quality final product leaves the stamping plant.

Extensive upgrades will also be undertaken on the box line, paint shop and final assembly to improve vehicle flow within the plant, along with the expansion of the container and vehicle yards.

Ford will also build new-vehicle-modification and training centres – the latter will ensure that all Ford employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to maximise the efficiencies of the enhanced Silverton facilities.

The new investment programme builds on the recently announced Project Blue Oval renewable-energy project, which aligns with the company’s global target of using 100% locally sourced renewable energy for all its manufacturing plants by 2035, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The first phase of Project Blue Oval is under way with the construction of solar carports for 4 200 vehicles at the Silverton plant.

Potential Job Creation
The expanded production will create 1 200 incremental jobs in South Africa, increasing the local Ford workforce to 5 500 employees, and adding an estimated 10 000 new jobs across Ford’s local supplier network, bringing the total to 60 000.

Capital Expenditure
$1.05-billion (R15.8-billion – 2021).

The investment includes $686-million, or R10.3-billion (2021), for extensive upgrades to the Silverton assembly plant, which will increase production volume and drive significant improvements in production efficiency and vehicle quality. Ford will also invest $365-million (R5.5-billion – 2021) to upgrade tooling at the company’s major supplier factories.

Planned Start/End Date
Ford SA will produce the new-generation Ranger pickup at the Tshwane plant in 2022.

Latest Developments
Ford Motor Company has started production at its new stamping plant at the Ranger assembly complex in Silverton.

The new facility measures 10 320 m2, equivalent to almost 1.5 times the size of a standard soccer field.

The stamping plant forms part of Ford’s investment in FMCSA’s operations to prepare for  production of the new Ranger pickup for the local and export markets.

The stamping plant comprises five tandem presses, including a 2 500 t draw press, a 1 600 t press and three 1 000 t presses that stamp the flat sheet metal into the various inner and outer body panels required for all three body styles – single cab, supercab and double cab – of the Ranger. 

The presses are housed in a sound abatement enclosure to reduce the noise generated by the operations, with an automated interpress feeder system transferring the stamped panels along the process to the end of line. 

The entire line is fully automated, with an installed capacity of 16 strokes a minute.

“We have 47 die sets with a total of 208 dies producing 67 different parts, including the floorpan, body sides, roof, bonnet, doors and load box,” stamping plant area manager Jan Groenewald has said.

To facilitate the movement of the heavy dies, the facility is equipped with a 50 t automated sling crane, two 60/20 sling cranes, and a 50 t semigantry crane.

“The Silverton assembly plant now has an installed capacity for 200 000 vehicles a year.”

At full capacity, the stamping plant will process 272 t/d of steel over a three-shift system.

The stamping facility also boasts a GOM ATOS ScanBox blue-light scanner system. 

The scanner enables Ford to measure the perimeter and surface dimensions of each part, and generate an accurate three-dimensional model that is compared to the stored 3D model on our computer system.

“We have three-hour production runs scheduled at a time, and the ScanBox measures 30 consecutive parts during each production run. This gives us the analysed data for the parts before they are moved across to the warehouse or fitted to a vehicle in the body shop, which simply wasn’t possible with the previous system.

“Following the Six Sigma process, it ensures that we have a 99.997% probability that all parts produced are within specification, which means that all of the body parts that go into a Ranger will be of the highest production quality,” Groenewald has explained.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
None stated.

Contact Details for Project Information
FMCSA GM communications Minesh Bhagaloo, tel +27 12 842 2691 or email mbhagalo@ford.com.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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