The retooled Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, will be 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.
The plant 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.”
A new 500-kilowatt solar panel system will be installed to help generate renewal energy for production of the all-new Ford Focus and Focus Electric cars. Ford is teaming with Detroit Edison and Xtreme Power to install 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.
Ten new electric vehicle charging stations on the property will be used to recharge the electric trucks that will transport parts between adjacent facilities.
Inside the facility, 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.
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.
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.”