People & Careers
Asia Pacific & Africa Careers

Women Give Masculine Endeavour a Feminine Touch In India

For S Sivasankari (centre), a production associate hailing from a small town in Tamil Nadu, building the Endeavour is a matter of pride.

CHENNAI, India — The muscular looking Ford SUV Endeavour, one of the biggest vehicles in its class on Indian roads, may look very macho from the outside, but few know it has a distinct feminine touch. Almost half of the workers producing the Endeavour at the U268 Trim, Chassis and Final (TCF) line at the Maraimalai Nagar plant in Chennai are women.

There are 20 women among the 45 employees working on the TCF U268 line who help at various stages of production and they are equal to their male counterparts when it comes to clamping and bolting on kits on the body shells with their handheld powertools.

Ford Endeavour's stylish looks, luxurious feel, advanced safety features with powerful, high-performance engine make it one of the largest, safest and most luxurious vehicles in its segment. With an overall length of 5060 mm, width of 1788mm and standing tall at 1826 mm, this SUV weighs as much as two tons and can easily accommodate seven adults.

S Sivasankari, a two-and-half-year veteran production associate with Ford India who works at the Trim 2 station fitting the instrument panel, steering column and the door mats, said she loves working on the line because “it is challenging and the camaraderie among the workforce is great”.

Coming from a family from the small town of Tirunelvelli in rural Tamil Nadu, Sivasankari said she is proud to be working for a great company like Ford and has received immense support from her family.

There is a lot of camaraderie among women workers at the Endeavour Trim, Chassis and Final (TCF) line that brings out the best in them.

“I like the huge SUVs I build because of its macho looks and massive road presence. I also love to work here, because it feels like family,” said N Rajam, a 24-year-old employee working on the line.

“We are a closely-knit group, often helping each other out and supporting trainees fresh out of college in learning to do the job properly. You will also be happy to know that most of the workforce has multi-tasking and multi-skilled capabilities, so we can send them to work on the Fiesta or Figo lines if needed,” said Priya Radhakrishnan, team leader of the U268 line.

That versatility came in handy when production of the Endeavour was disrupted for a few weeks following last year’s Thailand floods, which caused delays in the delivery of supplies.

“At that time we reallocated them to work on other lines/shifts without any idle man hours,” added Priya. With the productions normalized now, they’re now back on the Endeavour line.

“They are as efficient and capable as any of us and it’s a great example of Going Further to see that our team can meet the challenges and produce this great-looking SUV that brings pride to our customers,” said Jagan V., a young man who works on the same trim line.

Priya said they conducted an analysis of the safety and ergonomics on the line so that the women team members avoid risks and rotate them to ensure correct ergonomic postures are maintained.

Teamwork is key. Rajam (second from left) says it `feels like family’ working at Ford.

“We also try to avoid hazards and try to get men joining them when heavy lifting is involved. For example, in the final assembly, where the spare wheel which weighs 15 kg has to be fitted, the wheel is held in place by a man, while the women clamp on the bolts,” she added.

Ford Endeavour was ranked highest three times in a row for vehicle dependability in the SUV segment by JD Power Asia Pacific from 2008. More recently, it was named the 'Most Dependable SUV' in the JD Power Asia Pacific Vehicle Dependability Study 2011.