Ford is in the process of extensive upgrades to their Silverton assembly plant and this surely will lend itself to increased production and a flow in production with greatly reduced logistics and costs. On our tour of the plant, it quickly became clear that the level of investment in robotics and various other technologies, to ensure smooth operation of the various build facets, is immense. The scope of Ford’s investment in their South African operation exceeds R15 billion. The Ford plant will be aligned with the production of the next-generation Ford Ranger and the next-generation Ford Everest, both expected for release in the latter part of 2022.
The upgraded Ford plant is touted to produce about 200 000 vehicles a year, which is a considerable increase compared to approximately 170 000 in the previous production year. When operating at its optimum, the factory will produce one new Ford Ranger every two minutes. The plant has seen upgrades in a new body shop with sophisticated robotics and an impressive stamping plant to improve production flow. There is also a new paint shop and final assembly unit to improve vehicle flow and an expansion of the container and vehicle yards. New training centres ensure Ford employees are equipped with the skills required to enhance output at the Silverton facility.
On the green energy front, Ford also aims to achieve taking Silverton off-grid entirely and becoming completely self-sufficient and carbon neutral by 2024. This will make the Silverton plant the first of Fords to achieve this status. Solar carports will become an energy producer for the plant. From a fiscal point of view, Ford will be able to contribute about 2% to South Africa’s gross domestic product, which is quite an achievement. Another highlight of the event was the pre-production launch of the Ford Ranger and Everest, showcasing the new 3.0 ℓ turbodiesel V6 engine. The next generation Ranger will offer a choice of diesel and petrol powertrains, including the addition of Ford’s V6 turbodiesel and ten-speed auto transmission.
The eight key focus areas are as follows:
- Ford Sales and Service Experience
- Ranger and Everest Experts
- Master Your Vehicle
- Customer Service Convenience Initiatives
- Worry-Free Vehicle Health
- Unscheduled Vehicle Downtime
- Customer Retention and Renewal