Ford Motor Company has announced the realignment of its North America product development organization into four platform groups that will be responsible for sets of like vehicles. Previously, product development was organized around five broad-oriented groups.The changes will result in more new-product introductions, with more than 65 new Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury products over the next five years. This change will help it achieve a 10 percent annual product development productivity improvement and a 25 percent reduction in the number of platforms in North America by 2010, the company predicts.Ford’s North America product development will be organized into four platform groups:Small FWD/RWD: Ford Focus, Ford Mustang, Ford Freestar, Mercury Monterey, new Mercury SUV, and next-generation Lincoln cars.
Medium/Large FWD/AWD: Ford Taurus, Ford Five Hundred, Ford Freestyle, Mercury Montego, and new Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln cars.
SUVs and Body-on-Frame: Ford Escape, Ford Escape Hybrid, Ford Explorer, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Ford Expedition, Ford Excursion, Ford Crown Victoria, new Mercury small SUV, Mercury Mountaineer, Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Aviator, Lincoln Navigator, Lincoln Town Car, Lincoln LS, and all-new Ford SUVs.
Pickup Trucks and Commercial Vehicles: Ford Ranger, Ford F-Series, Ford E-Series.The company says moving to more flexible, common platforms, it will be able to introduce new, derivative products at lower costs in the future. In addition, these actions are expected to reduce product development times by approximately 25 percent.Ford is establishing an enhanced Product Development Quality organization to complement the improved engineering approach; a single quality director will ensure a consistent approach to quality throughout the product development process. Also, Ford is installing a new flexible manufacturing system throughout its North America assembly operations. The new system is expected to save $1.5 billion to $2 billion during the next decade because of standardized processes and components.The Dearborn Truck Plant at the Rogue Center in Dearborn, MI, will be the most flexible, with the ability to produce nine models off three platforms. Other North American assembly plants will be able to produce eight models off two platforms, the company reports. Approximately half of the company’s body shops, final assembly and chassis areas will be flexible by mid-decade, with 75 percent of the plants flexible by about 2010.