GM Ventures betting on a NanoSteel future

As part of its biggest worldwide expansion program in 50 years, Ford Motor Company will roll out a new single global manufacturing system that will significantly improve operating efficiencies while allowing it to produce 25 percent more vehicle derivatives per plant by 2015. Speaking at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars today, John Fleming, Ford executive vice president, Global Manufacturing stated: "The global One Ford plan is making it possible for us to deploy One Manufacturing, a single Ford production system that will pay tremendous dividends through standard processes, greater flexibility and improved investment efficiency."

Part of Ford's master plan involves raising its annual vehicle sales to 8 million units worldwide by mid-decade. To do that, Fleming noted: "It is critical that all of our assembly operations, wherever they are located, speak the same language when it comes to producing high-quality vehicles in a safe and efficient way." Success in that undertaking will help Ford become an industry leader in lowest total-cost production."

In addition to increasing the number of its global facilities that feature highly-efficient flexible body shops capable of turning out multiple variations on any given platform, the One Manufacturing effort will expand the use of "virtual tools" that permit engineers to develop optimized assembly techniques that raise both quality and efficiency. Since 2006, Ford has cut manufacturing build issues by over 90 percent and trimmed the costs to assemble a new vehicle and any derivatives by 20 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Under the new plan, it hopes to reduce total vehicle investment cost by an additional eight percent per year. As an ancillary benefit, the ability to produce more variations off of a single platform also will allow the company to continue trimming the total number of individual platforms required to fill out its global vehicle portfolio.

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