HARD on the heels of the announcement of the new Ford Ranger, Ford Motor Company have invested a further R600 million into the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha as part of an upgrade to produce the new V6 turbo diesel engine and upgrades to the existing assembly line for the 2.0-litre single turbo and 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engines for the next-generation Ranger.
In February, Ford invested R15.8 billion in their Silverton, Pretoria plant to upgrade the facility in order to manufacture the new Ranger for both local consumption and the export market.
The changes to the assembly line will enable the Struandale Plant to run a flexible format, as it will produce the new 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine alongside the Duratorq TDCi engines. There are 40 stations on the line that will be common to both engines, with a further 25 stations unique to the 3.0-litre V6.
The plant will have an annual installed capacity of 21 000 units of the V6 turbo diesel when production commences in the middle of next year. The combined installed capacity for this line is 130 000 engines per year, although it has been designed to allow the split between the two engine programs to be adjusted based on future demand.
“The R600 million investment in the Struandale Engine Plant is part of our commitment to modernising and growing our local operations and is over and above the R15.8-billion investment in the Silverton Assembly Plant and supplier tooling that we announced in February to support production of the next-generation Ranger,” said Ockert Berry, VP Operations, Ford South Africa.
“Through this investment, we are introducing a third diesel engine to the Struandale operations, in the form of the new 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine that will power selected next-gen Ranger models when production commences next year,” Berry said.
“The majority of the investment is going into expanding and modernising the current assembly line that has produced the existing 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines since 2011, with 792 000 engines assembled to date.”
Ford is introducing state-of-the-art production technologies that include the latest tooling along with advanced camera and transponder systems that are fully integrated into Ford’s global Quality Management System.
“This allows us to record and validate every step of the assembly operations to capture the entire birth history of each engine. This is an essential part of ensuring that we deliver world-class quality for our customers around the world.”
In addition to the assembly operations, the Engine Plant will also be responsible for machining the cylinder heads for the 3.0-litre diesel engine.
“The investment programme includes new equipment as well as retooling, upgrading and redeployment of existing machining operations for the cylinder head,” Berry added.
It has an initial installed capacity of 42 000 cylinder heads per annum for the V6 engine, but will be able to accommodate higher volumes in future, if needed.
The plant has also been further modernised and upgraded for the 2.0-litre single and bi-turbo engines to accommodate design changes for the new Ranger.
“The updates being introduced on this assembly line will facilitate greater complexity with additional derivatives of the 2.0-litre diesel engines being introduced, increasing the current nine derivatives to 13 when production commences in 2022,” Berry said.
“This will be supported by a move from the current two-shift production to 2.5 shifts, increasing the 320 engines produced per day when we launched this program to 445 units per day to meet the significant local and international demand for the Ranger,” Berry added.
Installed production capacity for this assembly line remains at 120 000 units per annum.
While the number of people employed at the Struandale Engine Plant remains unchanged at approximately 850, the employees allocated to the various machining and assembly lines will be optimised to support the required production volumes for all three engine programmes. Thus, ensuring stability in the local employment.
Plant employees are currently undergoing extensive training on the new 3.0-litre diesel, as well as on the updated 2.0-litre diesel engines, to ensure a seamless production start-up for Job 1 in the middle of next year.