Sustainability 2011/12

Financial Health

Ford Future Competitiveness

In the next 20 years, the number of vehicles in the world is projected to double from 1 billion to 2 billion, while the demand for fuel for all forms of transportation is predicted to grow by 45 percent. Global temperatures may continue to rise unless we stabilize greenhouse gases. Erratic weather patterns may impact water availability. And increasing global populations, coupled with improved standards of living worldwide, will put added strains on natural resources. In 2011, the world’s population hit 7 billion. That number is expected to jump to more than 9 billion by 2050, with most of the growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

At Ford, we’re looking at ways that technology can help us solve such challenges while creating profitable growth. One key piece of our future strategy is finding ways to tackle the mobility challenges of emerging economies. This includes looking for opportunities to improve transportation in rapidly growing urban centers and enhancing access to vehicles in remote locations. We have been dedicating R&D resources toward developing new integrated mobility solutions.

One area that will help us remain competitive is our work in so-called “flexible manufacturing” plants, which allows us to respond more quickly to consumer demand.

Flexible Manufacturing Facts

  • In some of our flexible body shops, more than 80 percent of the body tooling can be programmed to weld a variety of body styles, without delays caused by tooling changeovers.
  • Our flexible manufacturing strategy often uses programmable tooling technologies that eliminate the need to replace model-specific toolings.
  • In our flexible paint shops, we use standardized equipment capable of painting a vehicle of any size.
  • To facilitate flexibility in our final assembly plants, we are designing vehicles so that they are built in the same sequence, allowing for more efficient utilization of people and equipment.
  • In traditional powertrain facilities, changeover from one product to another typically requires a 12– to 18–month extended shutdown and results in significant equipment obsolescence; a flexible system changeover, by contrast, often takes place during regularly scheduled plant shutdowns during the summer and over winter holidays.

*As of 2012, nearly all of our U.S. assembly plants have flexible body shops.