Ford Finds Success In European Supplier Parks

Nov. 10, 2006
All major assembly plants in Europe use this model.

All of Ford's supplier parks in Europe are successfully operating on the same principles according to a company release issued Nov. 7. The suppliers make complex components, in the supplier park and deliver these to Ford's plants for assembly. Examples include modular sub-assemblies including engine dress-up, seats, doors, complete instrument panels, bumper systems and body parts.

This model has been successfully replicated across all of Ford's major assembly plants in Europe, Cologne and Saarlouis in Germany and Genk in Belgium.

'In time' and 'in sequence' production obviates the need for hundreds of truck transports that would have otherwise been necessary. "This is a big gain for the environment," said James Tetreault, vice president manufacturing, for Ford of Europe. "We are saving millions of truck-transport kilometers and liters of fuel, representing a significant emissions reduction."

The supplier parks are linked to the Ford facilities by two separate delivery systems -- an enclosed overhead conveyor system connecting to individual 'drop' stations in the final assembly area of the respective plant or a tunnel system that delivers parts directly into the plants' press and body shops.

Ford's priority for sub-assemblies from the supplier parks were for those with either long labor intensive pre-assembly time, such as instrument consoles, wiring looms, steering wheel and airbags, or those that take up a lot of space next to the production line, as in the seats, fuel tanks and bumpers.

The suppliers are linked into the Ford plants' scheduling system with just in time and in sequence controlled by Ford's central production control systems which are connected to the supplier parks via dedicated electronic data links.

Through supplier parks, Ford said it has dramatically reduced the complexity of its in-house operations, cutting significantly the number of assembled parts to be handled by Ford workers. The dashboard, for example, arrives in Ford plants as a single unit together with the steering wheel and the steering column. It was previously 300 separate items. The same is true of the front and rear suspension, the main wiring loom, and the door and side trim for the interior.

"The success of our supplier parks is proof that total commitment and partnership between manufacturers and their suppliers can improve quality, benefit the customer and the environment and reduce costs," Tetreault stressed.

Ford has seen improved quality standards, reduction in inventory across the supply chain and reduction in packaging and transportations across the supply chain.

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