BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Ford Motor Co. expects to save $2 billion by decade's end by transforming its factories to flexible manufacturing.
Ford's flexible plants can build multiple models on the same lines.
The automaker plans to use flexible manufacturing at 75 percent of its assembly and powertrain plants by 2010, said Ford's Matt DeMars at the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference here last week. DeMars is vice president of North American vehicle operations.
Eight of Ford's 19 assembly plants are flexible or are being converted to flexible manufacturing. The others still have dedicated manufacturing lines.
DeMars said Ford's goal is to be flexible enough at its assembly plants to build eight distinct vehicle models on two different platforms. As many as five F-series truck models today are being built at the Dearborn Truck plant in Michigan, he said.
By 2010, Ford will have saved $2 billion in manufacturing costs because of the flexibility. He said Ford also expects a 10 percent to 15 percent savings in tooling by not making conventional changeovers for new models.
Among the assembly plants converted to flexible manufacturing last year were Michigan Truck in Wayne, Mich., Kansas City Assembly and AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, Mich.
DeMars said that Ford's Hermosillo stamping and assembly plant in Sonora, Mexico, is being retooled and renovated for flexible manufacturing for the launch this year of the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr mid-sized sedans.
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