DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is applying a cost-cutting approach being used with suppliers to its own product development and manufacturing.
The expansion of the approach, dubbed Team Value Management by Ford, in part will lead to more supplier parks next to Ford assembly plants, said Phil Martens, Ford vice president of vehicle product development and engineering. Ford also will add body shops capable of producing multiple models and use larger modules.
The scope of Ford's plan is unclear, but Team Value Management will touch various manufacturing sites in North America, Martens said. Ford plans to unveil more specifics in the second quarter.
Team Value Management is aimed at eliminating waste, improving design for assembly, and improving long-term quality and reliability, Martens said. Ford has been most visibly using the approach to work with parts suppliers to reduce complexity, increase parts commonality and cut costs.
For instance, Ford and supplier engineers may determine a cheaper material could be used on a part without compromising quality. Or they could eliminate excessive parts numbers and spread the use of a single part across various vehicle models.
The approach will have its turn with future product programs, Martens said.
"How do we apply that at the higher level where we have hundreds of millions of dollars at stake?" asked Martens, speaking after an SAE World Congress presentation.
Ford could mate the new supplier parks to manufacturing sites that include stamping plants. Those manufacturing complexes, in combination with Ford's newer vehicle platforms and common powertrain combinations, could produce multiple models at a lower cost.
The new F-series truck plant under construction at the Rouge complex in Dearborn, Mich., and Ford's Chicago assembly plant, which is being revamped to include a supplier park, are a start. But more is coming.
"You're dealing with enormous scale that, if managed right, we think we can drive huge competitive opportunities for Ford," Martens said. "We think we can go beyond the Chicago experience."
Ben Gibert has been named Ford's director of business transformation within the product development group. He was a vehicle program director.
Martens said the changes will occur gradually, with the opportunity for at least one major project every year. The first projects likely will be completed in 2005.