Ford wants to see the same manufacturing processes in Africa as in the US (Photo : Ford Motor Company)
Ford Motor Company is announcing a "One Ford" plan that will significantly ramp up production capacity while driving down costs.
In what it calls its biggest global expansion in 50 years, the company is introducing a single manufacturing operating system. So-called "flexible body shops", already in place in 55 percent of Ford plants, will be in place in 65 percent by the end of 2012. Ford sees increasing the systems as a major step toward its goal of producing 8 million vehicles a year worldwide by the middle of the decade.
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The company is adding nine new plants in Asia and Africa, bringing its manufacturing capacity on those two continents to 2.9 million vehicles a year.
It is attempting to more effectively standardize its manufacturing processes, bringing plants across the globe more in line with each other. The measures it is taking have to do not just with manufacturing, but with the systems it has in place for the tracking and delivery of materials, and for maintenance and environmental procedures.
Ford is also expanding the use of virtual tools in its manufacturing. Virtual tools have reduced the number of "build issues" by 90 percent since 2006, the company says, by allowing more in-depth preliminary study of manufacturing processes.
"The global One Ford plan is making it possible for us to deploy One Manufacturing, a single Ford production system that will pay tremendous dividends through standard processes, greater flexibility and improved investment efficiency," John Fleming, Ford's executive vice president of Global Manufacturing, said in a statement at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars.
The company did not comment on what effects that streamlining manufacturing and expanding overseas operations might have on American jobs, but the company last week reiterated its commitment to increasing US jobs and manufacturing capability.