Case Study: Michigan Assembly Plant: A Symbol of Ford’s Transformation
If ever there were a symbol of our Company’s transformation, it’s our former Michigan Truck Plant in the city of Wayne. Built in 1957 – initially to produce station wagons – it spent nearly half a century producing trucks and some of the largest vehicles in our fleet: the Ford Bronco, the F-series trucks, the Ford Explorer and the Lincoln Navigator.
Today, the plant is at the other end of the automotive spectrum. We invested $550 million to convert the facility from a large SUV factory into a modern and flexible plant that focuses on some of the smallest – and most fuel-efficient – products in our lineup.
These days, the newly named Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) produces the global Ford Focus and the battery-electric Focus. The transformation of the plant embodies the larger transformation of our entire operations. It illustrates our focus on meeting increasing customer demand for fuel-efficient and advanced green vehicles; it reflects the best of our green and flexible manufacturing technologies; and it highlights how we as a company can contribute to economic growth by advancing sustainable products and manufacturing technologies.
MAP Production Lineup:
- Ford Focus (2010)
- Ford Focus Electric (2011)
- Ford C-MAX
- Ford C-MAX Hybrid
- Ford C-MAX Energi
The new Michigan Assembly Plant will initially make the all-new, fuel-efficient Ford Focus and the Focus Electric, Ford’s first commercially available all-electric passenger car. The new Focus will achieve 40 mpg through a range of advanced engine, powertrain and other technologies – an 18 percent improvement over the previous model. The plant will also build three additional vehicles, including the Ford C-MAX, C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi, our first commercially available plug-in hybrid.
Advancing Green Manufacturing
The new plant demonstrates Ford’s commitment to green production technologies. MAP boasts a 500 kW solar power generation system – one of the largest systems in the state – allowing the plant to operate on a blend of renewable and conventional electricity. Renewable energy collected by the solar panels feeds into the plant’s energy-efficient microgrid, helping power the plant. As part of this solar power system, we are piloting a battery storage system to store solar energy during non-sunlight hours. The system uses a 750 kW energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy – enough to power 100 average Michigan homes for a year. The energy storage system will be used to power electric trucks that transport material around the site. By using this system, we are replacing diesel engine trucks with electric trucks powered by the sun. The stored solar energy will also provide power during periods of insufficient or inconsistent sunlight.
The solar panels and battery storage are being installed and managed through a joint effort between Ford, DTE Energy, Extreme Power, the city of Wayne, Michigan, and the state of Michigan. The solar energy installation is part of DTE Energy’s pilot SolarCurrents program that calls for photovoltaic systems to be installed on customer rooftops or property over the next five years to generate 15 MW of electricity throughout southeast Michigan. The Michigan Assembly project is funded by a $3 million investment from DTE Energy’s SolarCurrents program, a $2 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission in support of the state’s smart-grid initiative, and approximately $800,000 worth of in-kind contributions from Ford.
In addition to the environmental benefits, this system is also projected to reduce the plant’s energy costs by $160,000 per year. The electric trucks will save an estimated 86,000 gallons of diesel each year. We are using the experience gained at MAP to test the viability of alternative energy to supply power for other manufacturing facilities around the world.
The plant is also using renewable energy from landfill gas; the boilers at MAP are fed by methane gas collected from a nearby landfill.
MAP also uses Ford’s “three-wet” paint technology, which significantly reduces energy use and volatile organic compound (VOC) and other emissions, while saving money and improving paint quality. The three-wet process allows us to apply primer, base coat and clear coat, and then bake the vehicle only once; traditional painting processes require baking between each of these steps. As a result, we save electricity from the blowers that run the booths and the ovens, plus natural gas from heating the air and the ovens. The MAP three-wet system is expected to save about $3 million in production in natural gas and electricity, produce 6,000 metric tons fewer carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year compared to waterborne systems and 8,000 metric tons fewer CO2 emissions per year compared to conventional high-solvent-borne paint systems. It is also expected to reduce VOC emissions by 5 percent.
The plant is also improving environmental performance by reducing waste. For example, the cardboard packaging for all the parts that come from Europe – about 50 percent of the total parts for the Focus – is carefully collected, sorted and recycled, as is the bubble wrap, the Styrofoam and water bottles used by employees. The plant also recycled construction waste generated during the redesign. For example, the temporary wooden partitions that were put up as the plant was revamped and remodeled were donated to the local Habitat for Humanity.
A Leader in Flexible Manufacturing
In addition to being a greener facility, MAP is now one of Ford’s most flexible manufacturing facilities. Flexible manufacturing allows us to switch production between vehicles on a single line, make vehicles more efficiently and adjust to changing customer demands almost instantaneously. More than 80 percent of the tooling in the plant is programmable to allow changing between vehicle lines and body styles without downtime. The Focus product development team also developed the vehicle with flexibility in mind by using designs that allow for the use of programmable tooling. MAP also uses virtual manufacturing and common build sequences in final assembly to improve quality, efficiency and flexibility.
As a result of these investments in flexible manufacturing, MAP will be the first facility in the world capable of building a full array of vehicles – gas-powered, electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid – all on the same production line.
Supporting Economic Growth for All Our Stakeholders
Ford’s investment in the Michigan Assembly Plant, the advanced green products we will build there and the advanced energy systems used to power the plant all help to support economic growth for our stakeholders in Michigan and around the world. For example, as part of our decision to produce three electrified vehicles at MAP, we also announced plans to bring our battery development and production in house; this decision will add 1,000 new jobs in Michigan for the production of electrified vehicles and battery packs, and contribute to moving our nation’s economy forward into green and sustainable transportation and energy technologies. Furthermore, the new Focus will generate more than 5,500 new supplier jobs worldwide. Our investments in the MAP and the new Ford Focus are part of a much larger investment in upgrading existing plants and building new plants to support economic growth across our global operations. For more information on these investments please see Investing in Operations and Regional Performance Highlights.
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