Ford Motor Company is taking another cue from its Japanese competitors with its OneFord plan. By building vehicles the same way in every plant around the world, Ford expects to reduce its manufacturing investment costs by 8% a year while boosting by 25% the number and types of vehicles that can be produced per facility by mid-decade.
Ford wants to be selling 8 million vehicles a year by 2015. It is the kind of growth needed to retain status as a major global automaker. To achieve this goal and to maximize profits the company want to maximize capacity utilization. Ultimately the manufacturing chief wants full utilization with plants running on three shifts. Ford has been adding a third crew to many of its U.S. plants as part of a plan to add 400,000 units of production to meet demand.
Capacity utilization has plagued the auto industry for decades while the US and Europe struggle with excess capacity, there is not enough capcity in Asia. Maximizing global utilization is the Key to OneFord and flexibility is the key to this problem according to Ford’s Head of Global Manufacturing John Flemming. Designing cars, and the factories to make them, in such a way that the factories can easily produce multiple models.
Japanese automakers have been the benchmarks in flexible manufacturing; enabling them to quickly change what they build to meet consumer demand while keeping costs down. And they have been leaders in producing full lineups of vehicles from few platforms or underpinnings which also saves cost in engineering and the ability to use more common parts.
More can be found in this Detroit Free Press Article.