Ford today celebrated the opening of the most flexible plant the company operates. The Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) has been designed to build gasoline-powered, battery electric, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the same line. The plant assembles the new Ford Focus, and will begin producing the Focus Electric later this year.
In December, the company announced an investment of $550 million to remodel the assembly plant.
According to a Ford statement, the Wayne, Mich., plant "features an environmentally friendly workplace with flexible manufacturing capability."
"MAP epitomizes the best of what Ford stands for--fuel efficiency, quality, smart technology," said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. "Focus delivers even more of what customers truly want and value--and this new car could not arrive in the market at a better time."
The body shop at MAP features reprogrammable tooling, "standardized equipment in the paint shop, and a common-build sequence in final assembly," Ford said.
The plant will use "a three-wet paint application that will save about $3 million in production" costs and resources, such as natural gas and electricity.
"In most other automotive plants, we apply a layer of paint called the primer coat and we bake the unit, and then we put on the base coat and the clear coat, and we bake it again," said John Nowak, environmental engineer. "The three-wet process allows us to put on primer, base, and clear, and bake it only once. We save all the electricity from the blowers that run the booths and the ovens, plus all the natural gas from heating the air and the ovens. Ford is leading the way on this greener, cleaner paint process."
In addition to the flexible assembly line and a more efficient work environment, the plant also stays "green" by using a large solar power generation system. The energy collected by solar panels feeds the microgrid that sends power to the plant. "When the plant is inactive...stored solar energy will provide power during periods of insufficient or inconsistent sunlight. The projected energy cost savings is approximately $160,000 per year," Ford said.
"We have taken steps great and small to make the plant as green as possible," Nowak said. "Our goal was to help the 4,000 Ford employees make this several-million-square-foot facility truly environmentally friendly and cost-efficient."
Ford transferred about 3,200 workers from its Wayne Assembly Plant, located next door to MAP, in January to start building the Focus.