Ford is opting to squeeze every last bit of capacity out of its plants in North America rather than build new factories. There are a total of 30 North American plants and Ford plans to increase capacity at every one of them as vehicle demand approaches levels not seen since before the recession.
They plan calls for additional workers and additional shifts as well as new equipment and processes that will increase line speed. Ford has already increased its capacity by 400,000 from last year and an additional 200,000 for the current year giving them 600,000 total additional units.
Despite these increases in capacity, sales of some vehicles have been limited. In July, both the Ford Focus and the Fusion were light on inventory. Their plant in Flat Rock will be adding Fusion production alongside the Mustang, but is still only operating at two shifts. If volume dictates, they will add a third in order to meet consumer demand.
There is no company mandate not to build a new plant, it’s just that there are no plans in the works for one right now. Instead, they’re focusing on increasing production at existing plants. This doesn’t negate the possibility of a new plant somewhere further down the line.
Ford is aiming for improvements in efficiency at the plants they’ve got already. The manufacturing team is working on identifying bottlenecks at plants and with its suppliers all with the goal of squeezing out an extra vehicle an hour however possible.
They’ve also been on a bit of a hiring spree with 8,000 hourly and 3,000 salaried workers added to the payroll in the last 15 months. Ford is working to make the environment for those workers better than before with modified work stations and better health programs. They’re coming to look at their workers as assets that need to be taken care so that they can be a part of Ford’s future.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.