"At Sanand, we also have rotational eco-dip tech where the vehicle rotates 360deg"

Kel Kearns, director - Manufacturing, Sanand Vehicle Assembly & Engine Plant, Ford India, speaks to Shobha Mathur on the carmaker’s upcoming plant in Sanand, Gujarat which is slated to start serial production by June.

By Shobha Mathur calendar 13 Mar 2015 Views icon3269 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Kel Kearns, director - Manufacturing, Sanand Vehicle Assembly & Engine Plant, Ford India, speaks to Shobha Mathur on the carmaker’s upcoming plant in Sanand, Gujarat which is slated to start serial production by June.

When will Ford India’s upcoming Sanand plant kick off operations? Is it delayed?
We are making really good progress and are in the process of getting ready for our production launch which we will have later this year. 

We have always said that the plant inauguration will be in the first part of this year, so we are on time and there have been no delays. We haven’t really ever announced the date – we have always said early part of this year. It will be in the first half of the year.

What is the current status in terms of work completion?
We are here at the inauguration of our supplier’s plant (Gold Seal-SaarGummi India’s new Sanand plant on March 12), so the readiness of our plant is that construction is complete. As you would understand, the process of getting ready for mass production takes a number of steps and some time and things are progressing very well.

Since Ford’s suppliers are ramping up in stages, how much capacity will Ford have initially at the Sanand plant?

We will have initially a capacity of 240,000 vehicles a year and 270,000 engines and they will be both for domestic and exports. That will be the installed capacity.

By when will you reach the full installed capacity numbers?
I can’t say at this stage. We are starting and preparing for mass production and, of course, we have to also provide according to what the market demands.

Can you elaborate on the highlights of the Sanand plant and how different will it be from the Chennai facility?
What we have is the very latest of technology and at this point of time we have been able to purchase the latest technology machinery that is available.

We are a global company and manufacture to a global bill of process, so we have all the benefits of global lessons learned in terms of our manufacturing and in a particular point in time this is the best available in the world. We have built a world-class facility to make more world-class cars.

What is the level of automation at the Sanand plant?
From a technology perspective, we have carried forward the current standard of 3-Wet painting technology that we have at the Chennai facility. We have an additional set of technology that is rotational eco-dip where the vehicle rotates 360 degrees. In the body shop, we have a high percentage of automation that delivers a high quality in deliveries that we are looking for in both domestic and exports. Body and exterior painting is highly automated as in every world-class manufacturing facility.

Has Ford taken any special initiatives for greening the plant?
Environment is very important in Ford’s objectives and what we have is zero waste landfill and zero waste water discharge that is very important as well. We have a plan for having ample green space like for trees and all sorts of things.

How many of Ford India’s suppliers are based in Gujarat?
In the Gujarat Industrial Development Corp estate, adjacent to our plant, we have a number of suppliers which have come up next to us. I think about 17 suppliers have set up greenfield plants close to our plant. That gives them the ability to deliver in-sequence supplies and just in time and gives all those efficiencies and gives us the ability to build in many different areas.

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