06/12/2003 – Dearborn Truck Plant To Showcase Lean, Flexible Manufacturing In Best-in-class Facility

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Source: Ford Motor Company

Dearborn Truck Plant To Showcase Lean, Flexible Manufacturing In Best-in-class Facility

  • The Dearborn Truck Plant will
    produce the all-new Ford F-150 beginning in 2004.
  • Dearborn
    Truck will be Ford’s most flexible plant worldwide, able to produce
    up to nine different models off three vehicle platforms.

  • The Dearborn Truck Plant will be a flagship of `lean’
    manufacturing – an industry-wide benchmark of maximum efficiency and
    highest quality, which was first conceived and articulated by Henry
    Ford in the 1920s.
  • Dearborn Truck Plant’s final assembly
    building design will set new workplace standards for employee
    ergonomics, physical comfort and safety.

DEARBORN, Mich., June 12,
2003 – When the new Dearborn Truck Plant begins production in 2004,
it will be more than the new home to the new Ford F-150. It will
signal an expansion of the company’s manufacturing vision, as the
legendary Ford Rouge Center becomes a manufacturing model for the
21st century.

The plant will be the flagship of Ford’s
next-generation lean and flexible manufacturing facilities. For

  • It will be capable of producing up to nine
    different models from three vehicle platforms, making it Ford’s most
    flexible plant worldwide.

  • The 16 standardized work cells that make up the flexible
    manufacturing body shop are made of fewer than 300 parts. This
    standardization cuts costs and means quicker product
  • The number of workstations in final assembly
    will be reduced by nearly 40 percent.
  • Component inventory
    requirements will be reduced by 40 percent.

Pacesetting Flexibility

The Dearborn Truck Plant
is another example of Ford’s commitment to establish its new,
next-generation flexible manufacturing system in its North American
assembly operations. By mid-decade, about half of Ford’s body
shops, trim and final assembly operations will be flexible. That
number will rise to 75 percent by the end of the decade. The system
is expected to save the company $1.5 to 2 billion in the coming

Dearborn Truck’s flexible features include the
ability to: quickly change the plant’s production according to
customer demand; easily retool and reprogram robots and computers
with improved changeover time; reduce initial investment and
changeover costs with standardized components and processes.

“With increasing market segmentation, Ford’s new flexible
assembly system means the company can react more quickly to meet
changing customer demand,” said Roman Krygier, group vice
president, Global Manufacturing and Quality. “We will be able to
produce a wider variety of vehicles, change the mix of products and
options, and change volumes – faster and with minimal added cost.
Those are benefits we can pass along to our customers.”

Lean Manufacturing

Dearborn Truck is implementing
world-class lean manufacturing standards that include synchronous
material flow (SMF), In-Line Vehicle Sequencing, waste reduction
and team-based processes for problem solving and strict quality

Dearborn Truck’s SMF is based on a weekly
predictive scheduling system, which coordinates with suppliers to
provide just-in-time component inventory for vehicle production,
minimizing on-site inventories. Using the same schedule, In-Line
Vehicle Sequencing produces vehicles in a particular order, so that
vehicle bodies match the proper components and arrive at the
operator at precisely the right time and place. Both processes help
Ford reduce waste, and vehicle and parts storage space, as well as
optimize production efficiency.

For example, the plant will
have no more than two hours of line-side parts inventory and 10
hours of off-line component inventory. Normal inventory supply for
most assembly plants is one to two days or more.

process control will empower plant operators and give them the
responsibility of ensuring defect-free products leave their work
areas. This will help to eliminate waste and reduce rework.

“The crux of the change is the way people work and the way
machinery is organized,” said Anne Stevens, vice president, North
America Vehicle Operations. “Lean manufacturing is all about people
and the way they use technology to eliminate waste.”

Workplace Culture Changes

The company utilized the
expertise of its employees at Dearborn Assembly Plant to help
design Dearborn Truck’s final assembly workstations. Since they
know best what it’s like to work on the line, selected operators and
skilled trades employees teamed with Dearborn Truck’s launch team
to design and test the standardized work modules and tools. Their
goals included enhancing quality, eliminating waste and promoting
employee safety in an improved workplace.

Employees will
continue to play a pivotal role in the new plant’s inverted pyramid
management system. Operators will work in small teams, each with a
team leader. Supervisors will advise and support the teams.

Pleasant Work Environment

Another of
the guiding design principles for Ford is employee safety and
comfort. In the final assembly building, where the majority of a
plant’s employees work, mezzanine levels and overhead walkways will
minimize pedestrian floor traffic. The aisles will be wide (18-21
feet versus the usual 12 feet) and will be clear of parts or
components. Forklifts will not be allowed in the production

The building’s design provides a clean, quiet and
well-lit environment. Inside, an air tempering system, aided by the
10.4-acre living roof planted with sedum, will keep the interior at
least 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature in the summer
and reduce energy costs in the winter. Natural light from the 10
roof monitors and 36 skylights will flood the million-square-foot
building’s interior. An additional 24 skylights are a part of the
new body shop.

The final assembly building also includes
people-friendly features such as overhead safety walkways and
comfortable team workrooms. The body shop also incorporates
recessed crossover areas that allow workers to save steps by
walking under the production line.

The Dearborn
Truck Plant will be quieter because the noise of churning conveyors
and the whizzing of pneumatic tools are gone. Instead of unwieldy,
pneumatic gear, Dearborn Truck will employ electric-powered tools.

Ergonomic Improvements

Ford has been a
leader in ergonomics, and that continues to play a major role in
the design of new job processes and tools. Ergonomists, engineers,
and plant product specialists examined the F-150 assembly processes
and made improvements in process sequencing, tooling and parts
design. As a result, about 400 ergonomic improvements have been
made to the new F-150 production process, enhancing
production-operator safety and comfort and resulting in better

For example, new tools translate into less stress
and strain on the operators’ arms and wrists. Very few operators
will need to work with their hands above their heads, or stoop to
do a job below their knees. On the four lines of final assembly,
operators will ride on vehicle skillets as they work. Skillets have
individual pallets for every vehicle, and some are capable of
adjusting to each operator’s height and work activities as the
vehicle moves from work area to work area.

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