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August 6, 2009

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Ford's Chicago plant renovated for new 2010 Taurus production

Ford Motor Company is celebrating production of the all-new 2010 Ford Taurus – which today was named an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick – in the historic Chicago Assembly Plant, which has been retooled to build the stylish, technologically sophisticated sedan with quality and precision.

"The 2010 Taurus provides still more proof of Ford's commitment to product excellence," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas.

"Delivering top safety, strong fuel economy, head-snapping design, impeccable driving dynamics and best-in-class technologies, Taurus truly showcases the best Ford has to offer."

Renovated plant benefits Taurus

The all-new Taurus and Taurus SHO are being produced in the recently renovated Chicago Assembly Plant, which will help ensure a quality manufacturing process. Ford invested more than $130 million in Chicago Assembly for tooling and equipment, along with ergonomic updates.

"By investing in its Chicago Assembly plant, Ford Motor Company is making an important reinvestment in our state," said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. "This is a remarkable show of confidence in Illinois' great work force, business community and everyday consumers, who are working together to drive our economy forward."

Chicago Assembly Plant circa 1953

The 2010 Taurus has been heralded for its sophisticated, customer-oriented technology like Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with Cross Traffic Alert, Multi-Contour Seats with Active Motion™, and Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support. But such high-tech systems require more rigorous quality processes.

Mark Fields with associates

Chicago Assembly, which has been a flexible manufacturing site since 2004, features a number of new quality-control techniques, including:

  • State-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, with sophisticated controls that ensure with accuracy the quality of the vehicles being built

  • The use of key fobs, which require operators to confirm proper assembly of the vehicle. If proper assembly is not confirmed, the line will stop

  • An onboard diagnostics and quality tracking system that scan vehicles to ensure there are no issues. If there is a problem, the vehicle will not be allowed to leave the plant

  • Ergonomic improvements throughout the plant, such as station readiness checks and redesigned assembly racks, which have led to a reduction in damaged parts and an increase in employee morale The quality checks continue even after the unit is off the assembly line. The plant is equipped with a "rough road" test track featuring seven surfaces designed to help employees identify any squeaks and rattles on units before they leave the plant.

"The upgrades we made at the plant will further ensure that quality is built into every Ford Taurus," said Joe Hinrichs, group vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. "Ford's quality is on par with the best in the industry, and the employees in Chicago are delivering the Taurus with an unrelenting focus on quality and craftsmanship."

Tackling electrical content upfront Larry Moskwa, the plant's final area manager, has been with Ford for 20 years and is a veteran of several new vehicle launches. When he heard about the high level of content of the 2010 Taurus, he knew the manufacturing processes at the plant would have to become more sophisticated.

"We needed to deal with all of the electrical content upfront," he said. "This became all about learning how to build quality into our vehicles from the ground up."

As a result, the plant dramatically increased the number of its employees that focus on the electrical content of the vehicles. It started with a three-phase training program where employees studied not only a skeleton car with the wiring of the electrical components exposed, but also worked on wiring looms that helped them understand the correct electrical connections.

"We told our employees, 'Failure is not an option, so we need to learn what we must do to make these systems work,'" Moskwa said.

Building on history

The Chicago Assembly Plant has a strong track record for quality. As Ford's oldest assembly plant in North America, it has produced generations of top Fords. The original Chicago Assembly Plant produced the classic Model T, and then later expanded into its current location and produced Ford delivery trucks, the Model A and Model A Convertible Cabriolets, among others that have made their mark in automotive history.

Plant 1924                                                                         Plant in 1953

In 1942 Chicago Assembly converted to wartime production, manufacturing nearly 6,000 M-8 armored cars and M-20 reconnaissance armored units, equipped with anti-mine floors developed by Ford under the supervision of the Army Ordnance Department. The production of the Mercury Sedan in 1945 marked the plant's return to civilian vehicles.

Today, employees are excited to be a part of the highly anticipated Taurus launch, said Jan Allman, Chicago Assembly Plant manager. "We have a cohesive, tightly knit team here," she said. "We understand the importance of the Taurus brand; we know what it means to Ford."

August 4, 09)

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