It's not often we get to report on an auto plant reopening, but this morning we bring you news that Ford is reopening its Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 to produce the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 for the Lincoln MKS and MKT, Ford Flex and 2010 Taurus SHO. The plant has been idle since 2007, but Ford has invested $55 million in the 58-year-old facility to create a flexible manufacturing system for powertrains. No new jobs will be created by reopening the plant, as Ford will staff it with 250 workers from other facilities on the site, but the job security that comes with being the first in the world to build the automaker's most advanced engine is surely welcome. The plant's new flexible manufacturing capabilities also mean that it might produce other members of the EcoBoost family in the future. The Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 has a storied history of building famous Ford engines, including the 351 and 5.0-liter V8s. We'll have to wait for history to judge the 3.5L EcoBoost V6, but in the short term it will likely be more popular than LeBron James to many Clevelanders.
FORD'S CLEVELAND ENGINE PLANT NO. 1 RESUMES PRODUCTION; FIRST SITE TO BUILD ECOBOOST ENGINES
- Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 resumes production and becomes the first Ford manufacturing site in the world to produce EcoBoost engines
- Ford's EcoBoost engine technology, which combines direct injection and turbo-charging, is the cornerstone of Ford's commitment to deliver affordable fuel economy for millions
- EcoBoost will first be available in the 2010 Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, Ford Taurus SHO and Ford Flex
CLEVELAND, Feb. 27, 2009 – Ford Motor Company is resuming production at its storied Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1, which becomes the first manufacturing site to build Ford's new fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines.
The plant, idled since 2007, is ramping up pre-production of 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engines that will be optional on the 2010 Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT and Ford Flex and come standard on the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO.
EcoBoost engines, which combine direct injection technology and turbo-charging are a key part of Ford's overall strategy to improve fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions across its lineup. The engines can achieve up 20 percent better fuel and 15 percent lower CO2 emissions compared with larger displacement engines without sacrificing power.
"The launch of EcoBoost is the big milestone in Ford's commitment to deliver affordable fuel-efficient cars and trucks to millions of customers," said Barb Samardzich, vice president, Global Powertrain Engineering. "The EcoBoost V6 is going to achieve the fuel economy that our customers demand, while delivering even more of the performance that they want."
Ford invested $55 million for tooling and equipment upgrades at Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 to build the EcoBoost engine. Approximately 250 employees will form the shift to build the engine. The plant will be staffed by employees from the existing three plants at the site.
"Our entire work force is thrilled to be building a high-technology engine that will give Ford a competitive edge," said Jan Allman, Ford's Cleveland Site Manager. "We have an outstanding, specially-trained team committed to delivering world-class quality for our customers."
Flexible Manufacturing System
The Cleveland Engine Plant has been outfitted with a flexible manufacturing system for powertrains, featuring modern machine tools that easily can be retooled and reprogrammed to perform new tasks with minimal disruption to production.
"One of the main benefits of this system is its flexibility," Allman said. "This system allows us to make changes within the plant without disrupting production. This is a complete change from the old way of doing things."
A new, internal database will ensure quality is built into the engine from the outset. During production, each engine built at the plant will have a sophisticated engine "birth history" that allows plant engineers to track every stage of production.
The engine history, maintained in a microchip database, will include hundreds of metrics and allows engineers to trace the precise path taken by any part so any quality control issue can be traced back to its source.
Extensive Employee Training
To prepare for production of the EcoBoost engine, the work force participated in an intensive quality training program. Employees learned basic manufacturing operations while gaining knowledge on how to manage their own equipment and work area through "manufacturing work teams" at the plant.
"This training approach not only delivers the technical training to the work force but also empowers workers," said Kevin Heck, Cleveland Engine No. 1 manufacturing manager. "You're turning over the keys to the hourly team members to let them do what they need to do to get their jobs done. Each employee, working under a team leader, is responsible for his or her area and they work as a team to deliver a high-quality engine."
The final phase of training provides employees an opportunity to upgrade skill sets for machining technicians and production team leaders. The plant, working with Cuyahoga Community College, will provide four weeks of onsite classroom training for this purpose, and each student will receive 10 credit hours toward an associate's degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology.
"We're working together to keep our site competitive," said Mike Gammella, President, UAW Local 1250. "We have identified and implemented processes and practices to improve quality. The outstanding work force is doing everything it takes to keep the Cleveland site flexible and competitive. "
The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine, the first V-6 direct-injection twin-turbocharged engine produced in North America, will make its debut in the 2010 Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, Ford Taurus SHO and Ford Flex – this summer.
With the fuel economy of a V-6, the EcoBoost engine delivers 355 horsepower and a responsive 350 lb.-ft of torque across a broad RPM range.
The 3.5-liter engine is the first in a wave of EcoBoost engines coming from Ford as part of a strategy to bring affordable fuel efficiency to millions. By 2013, more than 90 percent of Ford's North American lineup will be available with EcoBoost technology.
About Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1
Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 opened in 1951 as Ford's first engine plant in Ohio. Since then it has produced more than 35 million engines including 24.3 million engines in the famous 302 and 5.0-liter V-8 family. In 2004, Ford invested $350 million into the plant for redesign and installation of an all-new assembly line as well as block, crankshaft and cylinder head machining lines.