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Ford Motor Company investment project, South Africa – update

Image of Ford Motor Company Southern Africa's new body shop

Ford Motor Company Southern Africa's new body shop

Photo by Ford Motor Company Southern Africa

5th August 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 (FMCSA) 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
Mass production of the Ford Ranger pickup for the local and export markets is scheduled to start in October 2022.

The first batch of tooling trial (TT) Rangers have already been produced at Ford Southern Africa’s Silverton plant – an essential step in validating the new equipment and processes.

Ford unveiled a completely new body shop for the assembly of the new-generation Ranger bakkie at its Silverton plant at the end of July 2022, featuring the plant’s highest-ever levels of automation and quality control.

The plant will manufacture a wide variety of configurations, including single-, super- and double-cab, as well as left- and right-hand-drive derivatives. 

The new 44 000 m2 body shop and its supporting warehouse are located adjacent to the recently completed stamping plant, which allows for the seamless flow of stamped panels to the line where the body and load compartment of the Ranger pickup are assembled and welded.

The body shop’s production line is designed around 493 robots that transform the numerous stamped body panels – including the underbody, floor, roof, body sides, cab framing and load box – into a complete Ranger body, ready for transfer to the upgraded paint shop. 

The robotic welding guarantees the highest level of consistency, employing the latest 100% adaptive controllers, with servo guns to deliver spatter-free body welds. 

Considerable investment has also been made in quality-control technologies, including two inline Perceptron measuring systems that measure and record every vehicle manufactured in the body shop, along with their respective geometric pallets on which they are assembled. 

Vision systems attached to sealer application robots provides further error-proofing.

The handling of the vehicle body during manufacturing has also been automated on the line, eliminating the need to move parts manually, which could result in damage.

As with the new stamping plant, the body shop is equipped with the GOM ATOS ScanBox blue light scanner system that provides a three-dimensional body scan for comparison with a stored design specification to highlight any potential quality issues. 

A twin-column fixed bed coordinate measurement machine performs a range of probe measurements that are accurate down to microns, or thousandths of a millimetre, to ensure that production remains within specification.

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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