PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, 30 May, 2011 – The Ford Struandale Engine Plant today produced its first machined component sets, officially marking the launch of the new Ford Duratorq TDCi diesel engine export programme and the positioning of the local facility as a key player in Ford’s global supply network.

This momentous occasion comes just over a year after Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) confirmed the final investment of over R3-billion in the Struandale plant for the new diesel engine, as well as the Silverton Assembly Plant for the all-new Ranger pick-up.

“Today we celebrate a new era for the Ford Engine Plant, as it officially comes on line as a strategic supplier of machined components for the global Duratorq diesel engine programme,” stated Jeff Nemeth, FMCSA president and CEO.

“What the local team has achieved is simply remarkable, transforming the Engine Plant into a truly world-class facility, and meeting the highest standards of design, engineering, efficiency and quality.”

Although the investment programme was only finalised in early 2010, the Engine Plant had already undertaken significant revisions since 2009 in preparation for this vital export programme.

“We are extremely proud to reach this important milestone, having met all of the deadlines and quality standards during the build-up, as well as the validation process, trails and pre-production machining,” explained Wallace Yearwood, plant manager of the Struandale Engine Plant.

“This has required a massive effort from all stakeholders, namely our employees, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), contractors and suppliers. We’re delighted to see the first machined components being produced today for our export customers, thus symbolising our integration into Ford’s global supply chain, as part of the One Ford strategy.”

The Duratorq diesel engine export programme involves the machining of 220 000 component sets per year, comprising the engine head, crankshaft and block. Approximately 75 000 of these will be used for local engine assembly. The balance of the components will be exported to Ford engine plants in Thailand and Argentina.

In order to implement this high-tech project, the Struandale plant has been completely revamped over the past two years. This involved consolidating and moving much of the existing RoCam component machining and engine assembly lines, and completely overhauling the 16 514 square metres of floor area that Ford’s new diesel engine programme now occupies.

More than 100 new machines were imported for the project, the first of which arrived in March 2010. Since then, over 330 containers of equipment, machinery and supplies have been brought in from around the world, involving almost 250 000 man hours to transport and install the 22 different types of machines used for the engine component machining and assembly lines.

Specialist engineers from India, United States and the UK were on-site for much of the installation, and assisted the local team in preparing the machining lines for volume production. Additionally, all local employees underwent extensive training to ensure that the final products meet Ford’s stringent global quality standards.

The Struandale Engine Plant will commence assembling its first production Duratorq diesel engines on 27 June. The engines will be shipped to the Silverton Assembly Plant for installation in the new Ranger, with full-scale production of this important new pick-up scheduled to begin at the end of September for the domestic market as well as exports to Africa and Europe.