• Dec 15th 2010 at 9:56AM
  • 6
Not too long ago, Ford's storied Michigan Assembly Plant cranked out oversized SUVs. Now, after a $550-million investment, Ford's 50-plus-year-old factory has been converted into one of the company's most modern facilities in the world and the only one capable of churning out fuel-efficient gas-powered cars and three production versions of electrified vehicles: a battery-powered compact, an upcoming gas-electric and a plug-in hybrid.
Jim Tetreault, Ford's vice president of North America Manufacturing, issued this statement outlining the dramatic transformation that Michigan Assembly has undergone over the course of the past 19 months:
We've modernized just about every square foot of this facility to establish a new standard for a high-tech, green, flexible and efficient auto factory. The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant stands as a symbol for the transformation of Ford.
With retooling efforts complete, Michigan Assembly workers can shift their efforts towards producing the all-new global Ford Focus, in four-door and five-door configurations. In late 2011, the battery-powered Focus Electric will roll down the lines of the renovated facility. In 2012, Michigan Assembly will become the sole production site for a new gas-electric model and a plug-in hybrid.

[Source: Ford]



Michigan Assembly will be home to the all-new global Ford Focus.

* Ford Motor Company's retooled Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., becomes the world's first plant to build not only fuel-efficient gas-powered vehicles, but three production versions of electrified vehicles – battery electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles
* Production of the all-new global Ford Focus, in four-door and five-door versions, is under way with sales to begin early next year. The Focus Electric battery electric vehicle goes into production late next year followed by a new hybrid and plug-in hybrid in late 2012
* Michigan Assembly provides a new level of manufacturing flexibility, allowing it to build multiple models to quickly and efficiently meet changing consumer preferences
* Ford, Detroit Edison and Xtreme Power teaming up to establish one of Michigan's largest solar-powered generation systems and electric vehicle charging stations
* Ford and the United Auto Workers developed a framework of new and leading-edge operating practices at Michigan Assembly to produce the new Focus and other vehicles with industry-leading quality and efficiency

WAYNE, Mich., Dec. 14, 2010 – Ford Motor Company's Michigan Assembly Plant, which once churned out large SUVs, has completed a $550 million transformation that will make it the world's first factory to build not only fuel-efficient gas-powered cars, but also three production versions of electrified vehicles including battery electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Michigan Assembly will be home to the all-new global Ford Focus, which has started production and goes on sale early next year. The Focus Electric zero-emission battery electric vehicle goes into production late next year followed by production of a new hybrid and a plug-in hybrid in 2012.

"We've modernized just about every square foot of this facility to establish a new standard for a high-tech, green, flexible and efficient auto factory," said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing. "The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant stands as a symbol for the transformation of Ford."

On the outside, a new 500-kilowatt solar panel system will be installed to help generate renewal energy for production of Ford's all-new Focus and Focus Electric cars. Ten new electric vehicle charging stations on the property will be used to recharge the electric trucks that transport parts between adjacent facilities.

Inside, new cars making the three-mile trip down the assembly line must pass dozens of rigorous quality inspections. A new three-wet paint booth utilizes 66 paint robots with seven axis of movement to precisely apply paint to the cars. In the body shop, 500 new robots capable of 4,000 welds per vehicle add to the plant's flexibility. And a new internal communications system flashes updates and information to the plant's 3,200 employees via 163 monitor screens distributed throughout the plant.

Flexible: Trends move fast
Bright, modern and green – like the car it is building – the refurbished Michigan Assembly Plant is the company's new benchmark for flexible manufacturing. At 1.2 million square feet – about the size of 22 football fields – the plant becomes Ford's most flexible, high-volume and modern manufacturing facility in its global operations. Ford will continue to evolve its manufacturing flexibility as the company's facilities are rapidly being transformed into more nimble, flexible, and technologically advanced operations.

The changes at the plant will allow the company to run multiple models down the same production line without requiring considerable downtime for changeover of tooling. Two different models of the Focus can be adjusted between builds without restrictions.

"If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that customer wants and needs can change quickly – much more quickly than we have been equipped to efficiently respond to in the past," said Tetreault. "At Michigan Assembly, we will achieve a level of flexibility we don't have in any other plant around the world, which will allow us to meet shifting consumer preferences in real time."

Renewable: Power from the sun
Michigan Assembly also will boast Michigan's largest solar power generation system and several electric vehicle charging stations for greener, more sustainable manufacturing when installation is completed next year.

Ford is teaming with Detroit Edison and Xtreme Power to install the 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system. The system will be integrated with a 750-kilowatt energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries – enough to power 100 average Michigan homes for a year. A secondary, smaller solar energy system will be added at a later date to power lighting systems at Michigan Assembly. The combined systems are expected to result in projected energy cost savings of about $160,000 per year.

Quality: At every turn
To ensure best-in-class quality for the all-new Focus, vehicles on the line will endure rigorous examinations. Workers will perform hundreds of comprehensive quality tests and checks to ensure every bolt, seam and joint has been thoroughly inspected before continuing down the line.

"We are leveraging our people, processes and products to consistently build cars that will surpass the competition," said Tetreault. "This plant embodies everything we as a company strive to become – modern, efficient, flexible, global and sustainable."

Contributing to Focus' best-in-class quality and Michigan Assembly's transformation:

* Virtual manufacturing technology to improve ergonomics for easier, safer work
* Redesigned water soak testing booth to ensure zero water entry for long-term durability
* Highly efficient and environmentally friendly painting process
* Best-in-class squeak and rattle track that shakes and rolls vehicles for noises
* New energy-efficient illumination lighting for better vehicle inspections
* Moving platforms with real-time height adjustments for better operator ergonomics
* Vision-guided automation for better installation, fit-and-finish of doors, decks and hoods
* New robotic paint spray booths for more consistent and environmentally friendly application
* Electric tools capable of precisely measuring torque and the number of rotations required to secure bolts, screws and other attachments

Adding to the physical transformation of the plant, Ford and the United Auto Workers have developed a framework to establish a strong, progressive culture that encourages joint problem solving and continuous improvement of the production process.

"This plant is an inspirational example of how a modern manufacturing facility should look and work," said Tetreault. "It's bright, high-tech and efficient, while also being environmentally and ergonomically friendly."

# # #

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 163,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wayne county and the city of Wayne have contributed more than $160 million in tax credits and grants to support Ford's expansion.

      Show me a plant that is not using government assistance through tax schemes. None to date.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Every major business gets state tax credits when they shop between states for the best deal. It is the way of the land now in the United States. This isn't unique to the auto industry. Airlines, manufacturing, computer software companies, even professional sports teams use the same tactics to get huge state tax credits in order to locate in one state instead of another. They pit states against each other in a sort of bidding war to see which state will cave in the most.

      Some companies manage to get so many concessions, that it actually COSTS the state even more than the taxes they could have collected had the law just been applied equally to big businesses as it is applied to small ones.

      The rich use their riches to get richer by holding everyone else at gunpoint and demanding they get special treatment or they will take their riches elsewhere. Welcome to America.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Google each manufacturer. Foreign ones get local subsidies for new plants. Domestic brands get money through department of energy. Foreign makes also get additional tax credits to reduce vehicle costs. Google 'Mercedes Diesel Tax Credit'. The United States government supports the entire auto industry. Mass transit should be receiving all the funding.
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