Ford to Roll Out Flexible Manufacturing at 3 Plants
Ford Motor Co. said it expects to save $1.5 billion to $2 billion over the next decade by using a new, flexible manufacturing system. During a briefing at Ford's Windsor Engine Plant, the automaker said about half of its North American body, trim and final assembly operations will be flexible by mid-decade, increasing to 75 percent by the end of the decade. The company will roll out flexible manufacturing at North American plants as it introduces new products with significant changes. The first three will be the Norfolk (VA) Assembly Plant, the Kansas City (MO) Assembly Plant and the Dearborn (MI) Truck Plant, where Ford will make its 2004 F-150 pickup truck. Production will begin at the Norfolk plant in the middle of next year, then move to Kansas City and finally to Dearborn in 2004. The keys to flexible manufacturing are common vehicle architectures and standardized manufacturing processes that can be changed easily for new products.