CHENNAI, India—When Ford President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally exclaimed “The EcoSport looks fantastic” after experiencing the SUV in Chennai this week, he was also appreciating the strides the Chennai plant has made in adopting the Global Ford Production System (GFPS) to ramp up and bring additional flexibility at an investment of USD 142 million.
With the Chennai manufacturing facility of Ford India gearing up to launch the all-new EcoSport in the next few weeks, the focus is back on the plant that has several ‘firsts in Ford world’ to its credit in manufacturing excellence.
With the recently completed ramp-up, the facility is now capable of producing six different types of car bodies on one line – including the all-new EcoSport urban SUV. Ten variants of the EcoSport will be manufactured in Chennai for sale in India and export to several growth markets in the Asia Pacific region. The 21-month upgrade process has enabled the plant to support Ford’s next phase of growth.
“With key additions and enhancements in place, the Chennai plant is fully ready to meet any customer demand. The plant has sufficient flexibility to align production with demand and to take advantage of opportunities that are present before us,” said Tom Chackalackal, executive director of manufacturing, Ford India.
Behind the key transformations is Global Ford Production System (GFPS) — a continuously improving, lean, flexible and disciplined common global production system that encompasses a set of principles and processes to drive a lean manufacturing environment. With its adherence, Chennai will become one of the first plants in Asia Pacific to complete FPS deployment.
A mindset of zero injuries, zero defects, and 100% flow supports standardization of processes as a base for continuous improvement— that is the operating philosophy behind GFPS. Across the shops, over 600 people have been trained under the Global Team Leader and Process Coach training, which works in favour of GFPS implementation.
“The team has made significant progress on the successful launch program of EcoSport with the GFPS. Time and data management team level has meant we were always able to meet tight timelines, a visual management meant that workers were able to see and understand what was expected of them…all this has led to better quality and brought us to a timely launch of this ONE FORD product,” said DS Siva Kumar, manager, New Model Programme, who oversees the launch of EcoSport in Chennai.
“2013 is the Year of Implementation of GFPS globally. I’m glad to see the strong local implementation of GFPS in Chennai has contributed to the successful launch of the EcoSport” said Rima Jasser, Asia Pacific and Africa, FPS Manager, who oversees the implementation of the GFPS across the region.
One key component of GFPS is the Environmental Operating System (EOS), which provides a standardized, streamlined approach to maintaining compliance with all legal, third-party and Ford internal requirements, including objectives and targets. Ford is leveraging FPS and EOS to ensure process discipline, including the global implementation of standardized Single Point Lessons on Cooling Tower Management and Water Loss Review, two areas that increase water consumption when uncontrolled.
The Chennai plant was also the first in the world to feature Ford’s advanced Three-Wet High Solids paint process, which delivers a superior finish with high gloss and depth of color, improved durability and better resistance against scratches and stone chips. By eliminating the need for oven baking between paint coats, the process also cuts down on carbon dioxide emissions and reduces the emissions of volatile organic compounds by up to 20 percent compared with standard paint processes.
Ford has been relentlessly implementing Green practices at its integrated manufacturing facility in Chennai in the quest for sustainability. Courtesy path breaking green manufacturing processes, Ford has been able to re-use 100% of the waste water generated in the plant, enabled a 30% reduction in water consumption per car production in the past three years and reduced electricity consumption per car by 10%.
The plant also enables heat recovery by utilizing exhaust heat air to heat fresh air through the Heat exchanger in Topcoat oven and E coat ovens. Propane gas has been introduced as a fuel in the ovens instead of diesel, making for an environment-friendly paint process.
The 3-Wet High Solids technology also resulted in following benefits:
• VOC emission reduction by 60% since 2009, best in the Ford Asia Pacific region
• Dock-to-Dock time reduction by 40%
• CO2 emission reduction by 21%
• Water consumption reduction by 15000 KL/ annum
The energy saved in the paint shop – 27.6 million kWh/annum – is enough to power almost 12,000 households in Chennai for a year, or to light up the entire Chennai street lights in the night for about 4 months.
In the plant, 100% of the hazardous waste generated is either recycled or co-processed in the cement industries – making it a zero landfill plant. “It is great to see how we have assimilated various components of GFPS to lead in efficient manufacturing while being environmentally responsible,” said Chackalackal.
“These advanced manufacturing technologies and methods show how we’re bringing our best global practices to India, building vehicles to the highest global standards and doing our best to ensure a positive impact on the community here in Chennai,” said Gary Johnson, vice president of manufacturing for Ford Asia Pacific. “This reflects our deep commitment to India as a key part of our regional and global manufacturing network.”
The Ford Production System umbrella that explains the FPS implementation
The robots at body sub-assembly at Chennai plant
A car undergoes the three wet high solids paint process at the paint shop