The current Schuler semi-automated single press line will not also have Komatsu press line featuring fully automated crossbar technology. Komatsu press lines are configured for fast die changes and can produce 15 parts per minute. The Ford plant, earlier, had from two-die stacking facility which is now upgraded with special robot crane that has four-die stacking capability. This expansion will reduce the stamping cycle of production of sheet metal components to just two days. Another new feature is the new white light scanner technology which can measure all stamping parts and dies with the highest levels of accuracy.
Flexible Body Shop
The new upgrades will include 66 robots for important processes like spot welding, sealer application and door hemming process. This will not only enhance the automation level by 30 percent but also bring precision in the processes. The body shop capacity will be enhanced from the current 15 jobs per hour to 34. Introduction of a new real-time seal gap measuring equipment will bring accuracy in measuring seal gaps with hand-held calipers. The new body shop welding robots featuring new servo motor welding guns are much quieter than the earlier welding-gun technology and bring cleaner welds with little expulsion and burring.
Paint Line Facts
Chennai facility is the first automobile manufacturing plant in India to boast of a Three-Wet High-Solids paint technology. This automated technology features robots who apply three quotes of paint, primer, base coat and clear coat - over top of one another, which eliminates the necessity to oven bake between coats. Additionally, it also increases the gloss and depth of colour and improves durability and resistance to scratches. This new technology is environment friendly as efficient. This paint process significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions and volatile organic compounds emissions by about 20 percent. The paint shop capacity of the facility will increase from its 15 vehicles per hour to 34 and the colour choice becomes more flexible with 11 different colours.
New Trim and Chassis Assembly Line
The new assembly line, which is extended by 425 metres, will facilitate the quick assembly of various cars on the same line through an integrated kitting conveyor. The existing manual feed process will be replaced by a new components feed conveyor for important parts including wheels/tyres, bumpers, seats and instrument panel. Additionally, the new combines decking process will install front and rear axle assemblies into each other using an automated guided vehicle. A new overhead conveyor system will deliver fully dressed engines in a production sequence.
Ford India would no longer test its vehicles on public highways. The upgraded facility will include, as a part of the plant's 103 acres of expanded footprint, a 3.2-kilometre test-driving track
. This circuit will feature simulated real-world driving conditions including some straights, curves, cement roads, hill climbing and village street conditions. A new squeak-and-rattle test circuit is also coming up to check the vehicle quality and structural robustness before shipping it for sales.
Besides, there is a new underbody hot check and an enhanced dynamic testbed for testing water wading capabilities of a vehicle. To test the strength of the chassis and removing squeaks and rattles, if any, a new four-post test device has been introduced. The new in-line water testing facility that affirms that the vehicle is free water leaks and that all weather seals and closures are functioning properly has also been brought.
A "lean journey" approach has been adopted to enlarge the Maraimalai Nagar plant to make it ultra efficient and cost competitive. Automation technologies and computer power has been utilised to enable a "build to order" approach, in contrast with the "build to stock" approach. The Ford assembly line at Chennai features a next generation kitting system that uses trolleys that follow alongside each vehicle through its assembly. This also reduces chances of installing incorrect parts and enhances the convenience of the workers.
The plant features upgraded IT infrastructure which makes use of multiple IT systems, such as radio frequency identification (RFID), to efficiently manage logistics within the plant facility. This also helps in maintaining smaller inventories of commodities and components.
Key component suppliers have been accommodated close to the facility and 65 percent of the plant's supply base is within 100 kilometers of the site.
Plant Site Facts
Post the $500 million investment, the plant is now spread across an area of 353 acres. While 60 per cent of the plant is built-up area, the rest of it comprises of lawns and green belt. The large supplier park includes global on-site suppliers like Visteon, TATA Johnson Controls, YAPP and Cooper.
People and Employment
The Ford plant in Chennai employs about 2,351 staff members including technicians, engineers and craftspeople. And the expansion of the plant will directly generate several more job opportunities, not to mention the various indirect job opportunities.