'The Sanand plant will boast of an environment operating system to monitor and control energy usage, water usage and waste management.'

Ford India's director, manufacturing, Sanand Vehicle Assembly & Engine Plant, on the all-new facility slated to be operational by end-2014. An email interview by Shobha Mathur.

By Shobha Mathur calendar 17 Jun 2014 Views icon5206 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Ford India's director, manufacturing, Sanand Vehicle Assembly & Engine Plant, on the all-new facility slated to be operational by end-2014. An email interview by Shobha Mathur.

Can you detail the effort that has gone into making the all-new Sanand facility production-ready?
The Sanand vehicle assembly and engine plant is progressing well and will be operational towards the end of this year, with vehicles and engines to roll off sometime in 2015.
In building a world-class facility in Sanand, we have leveraged the fact that Ford is a global company with standard processes and procedures that have been continuously improved over time to deliver safety, quality, delivery, cost, people, maintenance and environmental outcomes.
The project has gone through different phases. In the first phase, we constructed the buildings and utilities on the 460-acre site. The second phase was to design, manufacture and install the facilities and tooling into the buildings that produce cars and engines. The final phase will be the launch phase where we hire and train our workforce and execute a series of commissioning and validation builds to fully prepare the team and the facility for mass production.

How green and energy efficient will the Sanand plant be compared to the Chennai facility?
For the upcoming facility, we have been able to select energy efficient equipment for installation at the site. In addition, the new facility will boast of an environment operating system (EOS) to monitor and control energy usage, water usage and waste management. The Sanand plant has been designed to achieve zero waste water discharge status. Other examples of environment-friendly measures being undertaken at the upcoming plant will include zero waste to landfill, environmentally friendly RoDip technology, natural gas for ovens and rainwater harvesting.

Has the customer shift to petrol cars and rising price of diesel made the company rethink its engine production strategy?
With the upcoming Sanand facility, Ford India will double its manufacturing capacity in India – with an installed capacity of 610,000 engines and 440,000 vehicles in India between Chennai and Sanand.
Ford is investing to grow scale and flexibility to meet the growing demand of its products in India and to export markets. As part of our One Ford plan, our manufacturing operations are flexible and can support a number of vehicle derivatives being produced, depending on market conditions.

How many component suppliers of Ford will be located in Gujarat and how many will be common to Chennai?
Ford is cognizant of the need to build and support such an infrastructure and has built integrated supplier parks near its factories. In Chennai, Tamil Nadu, we have two supplier parks; the first was set up when we built the plant and the second, when we expanded our facility three years ago.
In our upcoming facility in Sanand, a number of our suppliers have already been allotted land in an area adjacent to the facility. Around 200 acres of land has been allocated to Ford’s vendors in a cluster. We’re making sure we have room for our supplier partners to set up shop, grow, and develop in close proximity to our new facilities.

Can you elaborate the highlights of the Sanand facility that are not seen in any other Ford plant?
The opportunity to build a brand-new plant provides the opportunity for continuous improvement and launch of the latest technologies and processes. To elaborate, the technology of RoDip electrocoating of the vehicle body where the facility tumbles the body 360 degrees as it travels through the electrocoat tank to deliver a superior quality of corrosion protection as well as more energy efficient and compact facilities, will be installed at our Sanand plant.
The robot applied 3-Wet Top Coat Paint process which eliminates the need for a primer oven, again delivering green and leading to energy savings, will be another technology that we have selected to implement at our new plant.
Additionally, we will have the highly automated bodyshop that provides the flexibility of a cost-efficient model changeover in the future and minimum quantity oil (MQO) machining technology in the engine plant that will deliver cost, quality and environmental improvements. All this is linked together with the latest available global software systems to run the plant, for error proofing and for quality assurance at every step of the process.

What are the lessons learnt in sourcing skilled staff?
India has talent in abundance. For the Sanand facility, we have begun hiring for positions across technical and non-technical domains which encompasses positions right through all levels in the organisation – from the managers running operations to shopfloor supervisors to team leaders and team members in the production, maintenance, engineering and quality functions.
We are using a variety of sourcing and selection processes, in line with our internal guidelines. In addition, we are also factoring in time required to train our employees on the various aspects of the functions and the roles they are expected to perform when we start operations. We have been able to source qualified and experienced craftsman as well as staff with extensive automotive experience.
Ford has already established a relationship with local educational establishments such as ITIs, LJ College and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and is active with the local government in supporting local skill development.

What is Ford’s game-plan in terms of logistics and exports from Sanand?
With the continued growth of our core global platforms (as part of our One Ford plan), expanding our export business in India continues to be a strong part of our growth strategy.
We are well on course to establish India as our export hub and a centre of excellence for small cars and low displacement engines for both the domestic market and for exports.
Accelerating our export strategy – in addition to tapping domestic sales opportunities – Ford is and will utilise its India facilities to export to several global markets, thereby becoming advocates of India’s manufacturing prowess.

 

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