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Kel Kearns,
Site Plant Manager,
Sanand Vehicle Assembly & Engine Plant, Ford Motor Co.

Interview Driving localisation

Dec 1, 2016

As we work towards creating a strong brand in India by introducing high-value products, we are also looking to build effective scale and substantially increase local content. We have a team dedicated to drive localisation of tier one suppliers and overall localisation.

How has your company worked towards redefining manufacturing excellence?

The manufacturing plant in Sanand redefines manufacturing excellence with its state-of-the-art modern equipment and advanced technology to deliver quality products. For example, the press shop not only ensures that we produce the highest quality parts, but also maintains an exceptionally clean environment for employees with positive ventilation being deployed. The paint facility at Sanand uses Ford’s innovative three-wet paint process that allows three coats of paint to be applied and baked simultaneously. The energy-efficient process significantly reduces wastage and energy consumption.

Can you brief us on the various manufacturing principles/ tools & production concepts used in your plants? Can you elaborate on the Ford Production System? How does it ensure Zero Defect & 100% throughput in manufacturing?

Our vision with the plant operations continues to be geared towards achieving a culture of Zero Injuries, Zero Defects, and 100% flow that supports standardisation of our processes as a base for ensuring great quality. The level of automation varies across different sections of the plant. For example, the body shop in Ford’s Sanand plant has close to 95% automation ensuring the most-efficient line speed, along with high levels of quality.

What helps Ford achieve this is the Global Ford Production System (GFPS), which provides a foundation of standardisation, a framework of systems for safety, quality, delivery, cost, people, maintenance and environment as well as key unifying processes. It delivers zero-defects and 100% throughput in manufacturing. GFPS is the foundation for all manufacturing operations, which provides stability to our inputs, standardises our processes, and provides for continuous improvement. Key elements of the system include effective work groups, Zero Waste/Zero Defects, aligning global capacity with global market demand, optimising production throughput, and using total cost to drive performance. By following the disciplined processes and deliverables, we have been successful in preventing defects.

How is Ford helping its suppliers to set up shop, grow, and develop in close proximity to the new facilities?

A robust supply chain is essential for building high-quality vehicles satisfying customer requirements and for increasing localisation to make our products more affordable. Gujarat has reserved 200 acres of land for an automotive supplier park and as many as 19 of our suppliers have already set up their factories or are in the process of doing so to support our operations. Close proximity facilitates Just-In-Time sequenced delivery of parts to the plant reducing inventory and providing maximum build options/variations for customers.

What are your localisation strategies? How will they help protect the company from the ups and downs in the demand in the domestic market?

We understand the need to continuously increase local content in manufacturing. It is a business imperative. As we work towards creating a strong brand in India by introducing highvalue products, we are also looking to build effective scale and substantially increase local content. We have a team dedicated to drive profitability by increasing the local content on our nameplates. The goal for the team is to drive localisation of tier one suppliers as well as overall localisation.

Can you give a brief overview of how manufacturing operations have undergone changes over the years vis-à-vis rapid changes in technology?

There are several changes happening all around the world in the field of manufacturing. Almost 100 years ago, this process, first started by Ford, revolutionised production and dropped the assembly time for a single vehicle from 12 hours to about 90 minutes. Building on this tradition, Ford continues to accelerate its efforts to standardise production, make factories more flexible and introduce advanced technologies to efficiently build the best vehicles possible at the best value for our customers, no matter where they live.

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