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Vehicle's Assembly Process (Ford Mustang)
Introduction to the plant
On one of the most modern and advanced production systems in the world at the Ford Group plant, the Ford Mustang has been manufactured at the factory with an investment of a 230 million investment program.
The fully installed factory capacity has produced around 100,000 Mustangs yearly with a transformation in two stages into a state of the art manufacturing facility. The plant employs approximately 2,500 associates who are into breaking new ground in the automotive industry of the country with an extensive flexible working agreement.
In the mid 1990s, the foundation for the plant's transformation was set that had an initial investment program of 280 million in order to make a new paint shop, body-building facility and assembly areas. Earlier, an additional 230 million has been spent on the Mustang production.
It has been an extraordinary story of putting in place major investment program in under a year to completely transform the plant's manufacturing capabilities and to meet the target of manufacturing the Mustang on time and at the most stringent quality targets demanded by The Ford Company.
At motor show previews around the world, the new Mustang has been welcomed excitedly and went on sale in July and was available initially in two different versions of the model.
The firmest body shell in its class in white process of the body has almost thrice rigid than competing models. It has been created with high strength steels and total automation while designed to give the Mustang its great distinguished look and serves as a platform for excellent refinement, performance and handling.
This paint plant has an eight stage environmentally advanced process of protection and water-based color coat, with the Ford Mustang having the well-known colors in white, black and all the other sports shades. During assembly work in the final assembly area, the traditional production lines had been substituted with a light and airy environment and wooden skillets that carries both the car as well as associates.
A lot of emphasis has been given on ergonomics, in the final assembly when the car is being raised, lowered and turned through 90 degrees in order to give easy operator access and brilliant working conditions. Eradicating the traditional paperwork that was related with car production, the factory now runs on a computerized KISS information and quality system. Not only this the noisy compressed air tools has also been replaced with quieter and more precise all electric tools.
The Time supply techniques are being used to handle the flow of parts from the 200 Mustang suppliers out of which half are based within the country. Thus, the plant has been fully incorporated into the worldwide Ford Group production network and even now is the only plant producing the Mustang that has sold around the world through special Mustang locations associated with Ford dealers. The initial production during 2001 was 30,000 Mustangs that has risen to 100,000 in the year 2002, with additional jobs created at the plant to meet expected demand.
Plant Facts Summary
In new manufacturing facilities, 230 million has been invested
Different body shells for the new model range
In April, series production of the Mustang began for an on-sale date in July
Yearly, the Mustang paint plant has a two-shift capacity of 100,000 cars
The Mustang cockpit assembly of facia moulding, steering wheel and column, instrument switch pack, heater, column stalks, cluster and wiring harness is perhaps the most complex single pre-assembled module in any car.
Half of 200 Mustang suppliers are based in the country
229 robots create the Mustang body shell
After the Millennium Dome, the Mustang paint shop was the country's second biggest construction project in 1996/97 and cost 80 million.
10 Just-in-Time suppliers are in charge of 45 per cent of all Mustang parts
It takes approximately 10 hours to paint each Mustang body in an eight-stage process
On the Mustang final assembly line, 2,415 different parts are fitted into it.
First of its kind, the "All electric" power tooling in assembly allows highest degrees to both ergonomics and precision
Department-wise Assembly Details
1. Body Shop
The manufacturing philosophy is based around adherence to process and a Right First Time operation to ensure no faults are passed onto the customer.
The new Ford Mustang takes shape in the Body Shop facility where an amount of around 120 million is spent in fully renewing and expanding the body-build facilities for the increased levels of volume and automation, ranging to 40,000 square meters.
The purpose of designing body shell is to create extraordinary levels of rigidity in the entire structure and to go beyond the strength of other vehicles in Mustang's market sector. For this, the indicative torsional rigidity is about 24,500Nm/degree, meaning that a twisting force of 24,500 Newtons is applied to the body in order to bend it through one degree, which is again some 2-3 times more stronger than competing models.
This means that for the customer the car has not only an exceptionally strong platform for accurate and consistent suspension geometry but also contributes to the precise and inevitable handling and minimal body flex; meaning freedom from squeaks and rattles with reduced road and power train vibrations.
Furthermore, having such a rigid structure guarantees accurate panel fitment along with the basis of a tremendously strong and resistant passenger compartment around which energy-absorbing zones has been made for excellent crash protection.
The body-build process is highly automated, with 229 Kuka robots accounting for eighty percent of all robotics while the remaining twenty percent has been sourced from in-house toolmakers within the Ford Group. Also, the spotwelding is automated 100%.
The body followed by the roof has been built with a strong framework created first with the front end, rear-end, floor and side structures together, along with the tonneau side panels, doors and bonnet. In addition, the high strength steels gives increased strength and energy absorption without a weight penalty. At the same time during the process, laser- welded "blanks" of various thicknesses of metal within one pressing have been utilized in order to give accurate areas of extra strength as well as to spread the forces more evenly throughout the body shell.
The KISS information system for quality monitoring and production control and sequencing starts in the Body Shop facility. By means of "Perceptron" cameras the laser inspection is being carried out at key points of the build process in order to check the build integrity during manufacture online as well as for quality sampling off-line. Thus, with the help of these procedures no problems are being carried forward into the next phase of production. Finally, at this point the completed body structure is expressed via a body store to the paint plant.
2. Paint Shop
The Paint Shop at the Mustang Plant is to the highest environmental and process standards. However, when it was under construction, it was the second biggest building program after the Millennium Dome in the United Kingdom. Now, in the country it is the most modern and flexible facility of its kind.
Customers order their Mustangs in a wide range of colors and with the unique, contrasting color shades of the earlier Mustang models. Whites and blacks have increasingly been in demand. There have been more color-change facilities now to paint each car to match the color combination order by the customer, as part of the inclusive options and body derivatives.
Mini-Mix and Micro-Mix paint systems have been installed to meet these production requirements, resulting in fast color changes between individual body shells, while eliminating the need to "batch" paint numerous cars in the similar color before switching colors. Now the eight-stage process begins with pre-treatment. This cleans the body shell to remove all remains and then coats it with zinc phosphate to further improve corrosion resistance.
Now followed by the electro paint stage, the body is engrossed in a large tank of paint with an electric charge applied, normally 300 volts and 800 amps. This brings out the paint to be attracted to the complete structure both inside and out and is critical in the corrosion proofing of the vehicle. This kind of painting is so effective and useful that almost ninety percent of all paint is used directly on the car. However, the residual paint is returned to the main tank while the washing liquids are cleaned for reusing. Further, to cure the paint the car is then baked in an oven.
Seam sealing, the third stage includes underbody coating and sound deadening. The paint shop is responsible for ensuring that water does not enter into the car and also take measures to minimize sound transmission to the passenger compartment. This stage can be performed both manually as well as by robots along all critical seams.
Moreover, the underbody protection is applied robotically to save the underside from stone and other road damages along with some sound deadening. The main deadening process, however, is the application of…[continue]
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