October 7th, 1913, Ford started building the Model T under the leadership of Henry Ford using a new manufacturing process called the ‘Moving Assembly Line’ that changed the working of the automotive industry. Marking its 100th anniversary in 2013, Ford reminded us not only of its glorious past but also showcased what the future of the automotive industry will look like.
The 1,30,000 employees at Ford are on pace to manufacture 6 million vehicles worldwide this year and the growing demand shows that Ford will be producing over 8 million vehicles worldwide by 2017, thanks largely to the advancement in the manufacturing process. These exemplary numbers will be achieved with the use of new technologies developed by Ford for the manufacturing process. Primarily, Ford will be manufacturing over four different models at all of its plants. Also the vehicles will be built on nine core platforms as opposed to the current fifteen different platforms, for greater adaptability which will be achieved by 2017.
The technology in question here are the ‘Freeform Fabrication Technology’ and the 3D-Printing technology that will make the research and development cycle for new parts and spares faster. Prototypes will take days rather than months to create and be tested resulting in faster development of new vehicles. While the “virtual factory” will help the automotive giant cut on real world costs and analyse the computer simulations of the whole manufacturing process.
By 2015, Ford will have started its manufacturing operations in Russia, China, Romania, Thailand and Brazil. The proposed Sanand engine and assembly plant in India will also make it on the list. Even though, no new plant was announced for North America, the facilities will be retooled time to time. Making optimum utilisation of resources, Ford will be running 90 percent of its plants with three shift crews by 2017 to make sure the target of 8 million vehicles is achieved. Currently over sixty percent of its plants are following the same pattern to meet the demand.
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The Moving assembly line was introduced at a time when automobiles were handcrafted. But since Ford could not keep up with the demand, Henry Ford devised the indigenous manufacturing process that revolutionised production methods. The Model T was the first vehicle to roll out on the assembly line and consisted of over 3000 parts that were broken into 84 steps to be assembled together by the workers on the assembly line. This not increased the production, but also reduced the cost of the vehicle. Over fifteen million Model T’s were sold contributing to over half the population of the automobiles in the world.
In India, Ford has managed to bring good products thanks to their “One Ford” strategy and India has become the export hub for products like the Figo and EcoSport. We really hope to see the new Mondeo, Focus and the new Mustang making their way to India as part of the 8 new launches that Ford has promised by the middle of this decade.