Ford adds 400 more employees in Oakville to work in revamped plant
Oakville, ON – Ford Motor Company has begun production of an all-new 2015 Ford Edge for global export to more than 100 countries.
To support the global launch of the Ford Edge, Oakville Assembly has added 400 new employees to supplement the 1,000 new employees that were announced last year. With an investment of C$700 million, the Oakville Assembly plant has undergone a retooling and expansion, transforming it into one of the most competitive and advanced global manufacturing plants in Canada.
The Ford Edge will eventually be shipped around the world, from North America and South America, to Asia, Africa and the Middle East. With the addition of right-hand-drive and a diesel engine, the Edge will also be exported for the first time to Western Europe.
The enhancements at Oakville Assembly will enable Ford to shift production more quickly and efficiently to meet increasing consumer demand. Worldwide demand for utility vehicles is up 88% since 2008 and utilities now account for 19% of the global automotive market, with the segment expanding more than three times the rate of the vehicle industry overall.
In Europe, the utility vehicle segment grew from 9% market share in 2008 to 21% in 2014. In the United States – Ford Edge’s biggest market – the vehicle has been the best-selling five-passenger crossover utility for seven out of the eight years since its launch.
Oakville Assembly transformation
Ford’s Oakville Assembly Plant has undergone a massive transformation to include new technology and robotics, new processes and new training. More than 250 new robots were added, including new software and vision systems that improve efficiency, precision and quality. In addition, about 1,000 robots have been upgraded. These robots have been installed to work to the most demanding levels of precision and accuracy – with duties to ensure repeatable and high-quality assembly, including:
– New robots to apply urethane to glass for consistent application every time creating a perfect seal that reduces wind noise and improves quietness and comfort for the customer
– New robots to install panels, doors and hoods reducing variability and offering more control in installation for a more durable build
– Laser brazing with new robotics to offer cleaner lines and higher strength and precision in the seaming of the roof for a more high-end design
– A ‘Vehicle on Wheels’ vision system to ensure the flushness of doors, hood and lift gate through laser and optical images for a seamless fit
– 3D dirt detection technology and increased robotic automation in paint to employ a more durable paint application, resulting in best-in-class exterior appearance and a flawless finish. 3D dirt detection technology uses high-resolution cameras to detect and locate any paint imperfections not readily seen by the naked eye
Simulation classroom for training
To prepare for Oakville’s 1,400 newest hires, a simulation classroom was created to provide hands-on training. Throughout the plant, existing employees received training to manage new systems and processes.
“The new global Edge is an excellent and timely indication that Canada’s auto industry is poised to excel in coming years,” said Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor. “Canadian auto workers have consistently demonstrated superior productivity and quality results, which are essential to the success of an innovative vehicle like this one. This new vehicle is great news for the company and its workers, and good news for all Canadians who benefit from a strong auto industry and the revenue it generates.”
Oakville Assembly has also been recognized for its environmental efforts. The plant is the first North American assembly plant to go zero waste-to-landfill, and has recently upgraded to LED lighting across the plant, replacing 7,000 lights and saving an estimated 15 million kWh of energy per year.
Operating since 1953, Oakville Assembly also produces the Ford Flex and the Lincoln MKT. It will also begin production of the new global 2016 Lincoln MKX this year. The facility has approximately 4,500 employees working a partial three-shift schedule. Since 2013, Oakville Assembly has hired more than 1,700 employees.
Bill RoebuckBill Roebuck is the Editor and Associate Publisher of Machinery & Equipment MRO magazine and mromagazine.com.
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