MRO Magazine

Ford’s Windsor plant to use flexible manufacturing for new F-150 engine

Windsor, ON -- Jan. 24, 2003 -- Ford of Canada's largest engine plants soon will begin full-scale production of a n...


January 24, 2003
By MRO Magazine

Windsor, ON — Jan. 24, 2003 — Ford of Canada’s largest engine plants soon will begin full-scale production of a new 5.4-litre Triton V-8 engine that will power the next-generation 2004 Ford F-150 pickup introduced earlier this month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich.

The milestone will mark the culmination of a massive, three-year expansion program and investment of nearly C$770 million.

Key to the new engine’s increased power, refinement and fuel economy, is a three-valve cylinder head produced by Windsor Engine Plant and shipped to an all-new production line at the Essex (Ont.) Engine Plant for final assembly.

The two-plant collaboration is Ford of Canada’s most ambitious engine plant expansion in recent history, representing 70,200 sq m (780,000 sq ft) of new facilities and an injection of millions in the economy of Canada’s automotive heartland.


“Ford F-Series has been Canada’s best-selling full-size pickup for 36 years and is one of our top nameplates in the world,” said Alain Batty, Ford of Canada’s president & CEO. “That underscores the importance of our new engine and Windsor’s unique role in the success of the F-150.”

“Windsor is the largest centre of engine production in Ford’s global operations,” said Chris Bolen, plant manager at Ford’s Windsor Engine Plant. Bolen noted both Windsor and Essex Engine Plants are on track to surpass last year’s production of 1.1 million engines.

Flexible manufacturing line

Graham Harris, Ford of Canada’s launch manager for the new engine, noted the new cylinder-head line at Windsor Engine Plant uses flexible manufacturing techniques. “The installation of flexible manufacturing at Windsor Engine Plant is the first in what will be a global rollout of new and innovative manufacturing techniques at Ford engine facilities throughout the world,” he said.

Construction to expand both plants began in Spring 2000. The Essex Engine Plant has received a 22,500 sq m (250,000 sq ft) building expansion that includes a new production line for the final assembly of the new three-valve 5.4-litre Triton V-8 engines, as well as a new crankshaft machining area.

Although full production occurs in 2003, plant manager Aaron McKey has confirmed that limited assembly of a three-valve V-8 engine for the Ford Falcon range in Australia is already under way.

“Canadian-built engines are powering the new Ford Falcon a world away in Australia. Our engines will also be powering the next generation of the best-selling Ford F-150 pickup. These are significant pride points for the 2,000 men and women employed at the Essex Engine Plant,” said McKey.

Across town, the Windsor Engine Plant has increased in size by some 25 per cent, having received a 48,000 sq m (530,000 sq ft) facility expansion.

The 2,400 employees at the Windsor Engine Plant are primarily involved in the assembly of Ford’s Triton family of 4.6- and 5.4-litre V-8, and 6.8-litre V-10 engines and the precision machining of several engine components such as cylinder blocks, cylinder heads, camshafts, crankshafts and connecting rods. The recent expansion provides for the assembly of 650,000 sets of cylinder heads and camshafts, plus the machining of additional cylinder heads, for the new TritonV-8.

“Our commitment to Canada is strong, and getting stronger,” noted Batty. In addition to putting the final touches on the Windsor expansion program. In 2002, Ford completed a $150 million expansion in Ontario at its St. Thomas Assembly Plant and committed $600 million toward the production of the next generation Ford Windstar and new Mercury Monterey at the Oakville Assembly Plant.