Ford has invested $500m in its engine-making plant near Chennai, India to add flexible production of the Duratec 1.2-litre engine dedicated to the Indian Figo. The first production version of the car was driven off the adjacent assembly line last Friday, when engine production began as well. Ford is using many important features of its flexible manufacturing strategy here, developing several logistics strategies to reduce complexity at the line, including a high percentage of kitting.
The investment at Maraimalai Nagar will quadruple production capacity at the facility, which will also make the 1.4- and 1.6-litre engines in both petrol and diesel, raising capacity to 250,000 engines and making Chennai a major hub for the export of diesels and petrol engines in the coming decade.
Initially the plant will focus on the assembly of both the common rail 1.4-litre diesel engine and the new 1.2-litre petrol engine for the Indian market version of the vehicle. Both engines, along with locally sourced Ford IB5 transmissions, will be fitted in the new Figo, which will enter full production in the first quarter of 2010.
Up to 79% of the diesel engine parts and 60% of the petrol engine components are produced locally in India with many suppliers located nearby to maximise logistics efficiency. Further to this, forged crankshafts for both the diesel and petrol engines will be machined onsite at the new facility.
Ford is also kitting nearly 52% of the parts for the engines, including piston, rings and connecting rods, prior to installation to help facilitate lineside logistics.
To help reduce shipping weights for those engines destined for export, the 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel and the 1.2-litre Duratec petrol engine will be shipped minus the transmissions with local assembly plants completing final assembly by adding the transmission as required by market demand The Figo will be manufactured primarily for Indian customers initially but will be exported to other countries by the middle of this year.
Export to additional markets within Asia Pacific and Africa is expected to begin in 2011.
Read more in the forthcoming April-June issue of Automotive Logistics magazine, which will feature an in-depth interview with Rick DeMuro, director of material planning and logistics for Ford Asia Pacific Africa, about Ford’s supply chain strategy in the region, including details of its flexible manufacturing as well as Ford’s efforts to implement its European-derived order-to-delivery system, Vista, to markets in the region, including Australia and India.