Ford Chennai Plant Begins Production of Ford Figo and New 1.2L Engine; New Flexible Engine Manufacturing Facility
|The first production Ford Figo was driven off the line Friday, 5 Feb. at Ford’s expanded Chennai Integrated Manufacturing Plant by Tom Chackalackal, vice president of manufacturing, Ford India. Click to enlarge.|
Ford has begun production of its the new Ford Figo (earlier post) and its new 1.2-liter gasoline-fueled Duratec engine—to be dedicated solely for the Indian Figo—at its Chennai, India engine plant. The 1.4L diesel Duratorq will be built alongside the 1.2-liter engine. Both engines, along with locally-sourced Ford IB5 transmissions, will be fitted in the new Ford Figo that will be produced at the plant starting in the first quarter of 2010.
Export engines will be produced for either the manual or Ford’s new six-speed automatic transmission. Export of the engines to additional markets within the Asia Pacific and Africa region is expected to begin in 2011.
The engine plant, which is more than 40,000 square meters, will quadruple production capacity of the engine manufacturing facility. Currently, a single production line produces approximately 60,000 diesel engines a year. With a capacity of 250,000 engines a year, Chennai stands poised to become a major hub for the export of both diesel and gasoline engines in the next decade.
Part of Ford Motor Company’s US$500-million investment at the Maraimalai Nagar site, the new engine plant is designed to meet the growing needs of the Indian vehicle market and is an advanced manufacturing center that has been created with the world’s best practices for engine manufacturing.
We benchmarked against other competitive facilities globally, as well as the current volume manufacturers in India, for quality and production efficiency.
—Michael Boneham, president and managing director, Ford India
The new 1.2L engine has been specifically designed for the Indian market with emphasis on fuel efficiency. The engine was engineered to run on 88 RON fuel, an important consideration for the Indian market and one that meets the Bharat IV emission standards, along with complying to the latest Euro 4 requirements for export markets.
The 1.2L engine is based on the family of Ford SIGMA engines and is one of ten types of engines the plant is capable of producing. Displacement for the SIGMA engines range up to 1.6L, available with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. Among the first export markets to receive the SIGMA 1.4L and 1.6L engines are countries in the ASEAN region.
The 1.4L diesel engine that currently is produced at the facility will continue production at the plant with increasing volumes.
While the plant has been continually producing diesel engines, the new flexible line is set up to produce all engine variants including 1.2L, 1.4L and 1.6L in both gasoline and diesel, with a continuous mixed flow that doesn’t require the engines to be bundled or batch built. The new engine assembly line stretches approximately 900 meters and nearly 37% is fully or semi-automated.
Production of the engines begins with raw castings of the blocks, cylinder heads and crankshafts arriving from Indian and international suppliers for final machining at the facility. The machine shop encompasses more than 16,000 square metres and will include a fully-flexible, four-axis CNC machining center for the cylinder head, block and crankshaft lines with a central coolant facility.
Crankshafts for both the diesel and petrol engines are machined with a fully-automated Gantry loading system. Both forged (diesel) and cast (gasoline) engine crankshafts will be machined at the new facility.
Following final machining, the inspection process for major components will be measured through advanced Coordinated Measuring Machines. Quality checks for best-in-class metal purity also will be inspected at on-site labs prior to assembly operations.
Best practices, including automation in certain assembly operations, have been adopted from Ford's global operations throughout the facility. In critical areas, including piston and camshaft installation, operations are performed manually by technicians. Nearly 52% of the parts for the engines, including piston, rings and connecting rods, are kitted prior to installation to help facilitate ease of installation at the operator level. With the expansion, Ford India has created close to 700 new jobs in the engine plant.
Seventy-nine percent of the diesel engine parts and 60% of the gasoline engine components are produced locally in India. Like the assembly operation for vehicles in Chennai, engine component manufacturers and suppliers are conveniently located nearby for better logistics.
To help reduce shipping weights, export engines will be shipped minus the transmission. Local assembly plants will complete final assembly by adding the transmission as required by market demand, demonstrating growing supplier capabilities.
Four engine dynamometers are located on-site at the Chennai facilities. Production engines are regularly audited from the assembly line and thoroughly tested on the dynamometers to ensure that quality, performance and durability standards are met. Production validation tests are conducted on all engine variations in these facilities to meet standards that are equivalent to 200,000 kilometers. On-road durability and endurance testing in dusty and rough road conditions, as well as high-idle city driving, also is evaluated.
Every assembled engine is subjected to a battery of cold tests including pre-injection for fuel injectors, sensor connectivity, fuel rail leakage, oil pressure and camshaft positioning. To meet global quality standards, simulated Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) testing is conducted.
Under normal operations, one engine per 500 is inspected. On new engines, including the 1.2L that will be standard equipment on the new Ford Figo, engineers have been testing at increased frequency, followed by a complete teardown to measure wear patterns and any irregularities in the new engines. Quality issues are addressed immediately with changes implemented prior to further production.
Quality levels at the engine plant are expected to reach even higher levels with the new global Class 8 ISO processes and practices put in place that ensure minimal dust and particulate levels are maintained throughout the plant.