Ford plant in Germany wins lean production award

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: lean manufacturing
Ford of Europe's assembly plant in Cologne, Germany, has received the "Lean Production Award 2006" from business consulting agency Agamus Consult in cooperation with the Germany automotive manufacturing magazine Automobilproduktion.

Ford's Cologne site was among 55 European production facilities from vehicle manufacturers and suppliers that the two institutions measured for manufacturing efficiency.

"This award recognizes all the hard work we invested into the complete restructuring of our Cologne assembly site in 2000 and 2001", said Johannes Oimann, executive director of vehicle operations, Ford of Europe.

For the launch of the latest generation Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion in 2002, Ford invested more than 410 million Euros in the modernization of the plant and the building of a new supplier park adjacent to the final assembly area.

"In 2002, when starting with the new Fiesta generation, we produced 268,000 vehicles with 5,600 employees," says Oimann. "Through modernized work processes, new machinery and a completely changed working structure, we expect to produce 412,000 Ford Fiestas and Fusions in 2006 using a workforce of 4,100 employees. This means, theoretically, that every man or woman in the Cologne assembly plant manufactures 100 cars in a year."

Ford's assembly plant in Cologne has previously been cited in industry manufacturing studies as a class-leading facility in terms of productivity.

But it is not only the high productivity that guarantees the success of Ford's assembly plant in Cologne. Through a completely restructured work organization, with tasks carried out by independent teams, absenteeism between 2002 to 2006 has been reduced by 30 percent while workplace safety increased by 65 percent.

Thanks to the flexible manufacturing policy adopted by the company, Ford of Europe's manufacturing efficiency has improved by more than 21 percent since 2000. Currently, the company's vehicle assembly operations throughout Europe are operating at almost 100 percent capacity utilization.

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