LIMA, Ohio - In its simplest form, the business model of supply and demand can be broken down into two parts. A consumer needs “something” and a business provides that “something.” Suppliers, though, act as the link in the supply and demand process.
The same is true here at Lima Engine Plant (LEP). With a new product launch scheduled to take place in early 2014, Launch Manager Dave Farley and his team are working hard to ensure a seamless transition. The local launch team facilitated a much-anticipated PV-6 Nano Engine Supplier Summit this week, and representatives from approximately 55 Ford suppliers made the trek here from all across the globe. The event offered the team an opportunity to clearly express their expectations leading up to the new engine launch.
LEP Plant Manager Mike Felix stressed in his opening remarks the importance of the new engine in the continuing strategy of the One Ford plan. He also highlighted the importance of a clear and open relationship with suppliers. “This cannot be done alone,” Felix said, adding “Our supply base is a very important part of our business. Our success and your success go hand in hand and that’s why we’re all here today.”
Suppliers spent the first morning gathering information from a number of presenters, who spoke about quality processes, expectations and timelines. For Mike McGahey, Engineering manager with BorgWarner, it was time well spent. BorgWarner will be supplying the turbo systems for the EcoBoost engine, and McGahey said the summit offered him an opportunity to receive valuable information as well as to speak face to face with LEP reps.
“It’s always nice to have that one-on-one interaction and get to know someone you’re doing business with,” he said. “That especially helps when you’re emailing someone. You actually know and have spoken personally to the person you’re emailing back and forth with.”
Lima Engine Plant’s Nano Launch Manager Dave Farley provided suppliers with a short history of the plant, and expressed his pride in the work being done at LEP.
“You are part of our future here at Lima,” Farley told suppliers. “We are called Lima Engine Plant, but we are much more than that. Currently we sub-assemble the piston/rod assemblies and fully machine and assemble two styles of cylinder blocks. We also fully machine and assemble cylinder heads, as well as two crank shafts used in the 3.5 and 3.7-liter applications.”
Farley also noted how far the plant has come since ground was broken for the construction of the plant in November 1955. The first engine produced by LEP was built in May 1957 for the 1958 model year Ford Edsel. Throughout the past 50 years, the plant has grown from just over 1 million square feet to more than 2.4 million square feet under roof. Farley also told suppliers that LEP had achieved a milestone in 2012 with its 39th million engine built locally.
“Since our beginning, that equates to roughly 714,000 engines built here annually,” he said adding that during D-35’s first year of production, the engine built at LEP was named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines.
“What does that mean? It means we started off with a great engineering design and we were able to assemble high-quality components to make outstanding engines that have exceeded expectations of our customers, as well as our critics,” noted Farley.
The launch of the D-35 engine at LEP set the bar high for future launches, and Farley said they expect the same success with the launch of the premium V-6 engine. “That can only be achieved by the dedication to quality by our supplier base, not only at launch but throughout the entire product lifecycle,” he said.
Felix echoed that sentiment later on when he spoke to suppliers about the importance of receiving high-quality components. Felix said that the plant is looking forward to building its 40th million engine, which should take place sometime in 2014.
“That’s a lot of pride and experience within this plant,” he said, adding that the summit’s key purpose was to provide expectations that LEP has of its suppliers. “We need quality parts delivered on time. Our customers expect the same thing out of us, and we have robust processes in place to make sure we provide those high-quality engines.”
He also stressed the importance of working together with the suppliers, and keeping an honest and open dialogue when things don’t go as planned.
“It’s imperative we work together as a team,” he said. “It’s a very competitive marketplace out there, and it’s no secret in our business that quality is a key element in maintaining and gaining market share. It’s not an ‘us versus them’ attitude. It’s more how can we collaborate and work together for a seamless integration. We have to have a sense of urgency.”
The local summit marked the first time a plant has hosted such an event, and LEP was chosen to pilot the event because of the upcoming Nano launch. “I’d like to thank everyone involved in facilitating this event,” Felix said, adding “Our team has worked very hard over the past few months to put this together and their hard work and dedication to making our launch successful is evident.”