Port Elizabeth – 28 June 2010 – The Ford Engine Plant in Struandale has achieved three important milestones in the build-up to the launch of the Puma engine programme, comprising the building of an entirely new assembly hall, the comprehensive revamp of existing facilities and the opening of a new Training Centre.

Following the official ground-breaking in October, the Struandale facility has been a hive of activity as the construction of the new Puma assembly hall commenced alongside the existing RoCam assembly hall, covering a total area of 1 750 m2. Construction was completed in the middle of June.

At the same time, all three plants have been totally revamped, with the existing production and assembly lines for the current RoCam engine, and components for RoCam, having been optimised and consolidated by an average of 50-percent. Despite covering less floor area, greater efficiency and output levels have been achieved.

More than 100 new and refurbished component manufacturing machines are being imported for the Puma programme – the first of which arrived in Port Elizabeth on 24 March 2010 – and are currently being installed within the new and upgraded facilities.

This will install annual capacity at the Engine Plant for 220 000 machined component sets, of which 75 000 will be used for engine assembly for the Silverton assembly plant, and the balance will be exported.

The manufacture of machining components (head, crank and block) for export markets and engine assembly begin early 2011 for the new compact pick-up truck to be produced at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria.

A new Training Centre has been opened to provide the highest levels of technical proficiency amongst current employees allocated to the Puma programme, as well as new staff contracted for the project. The facility boasts three specialist technicians that will provide training in the fields of pneumatics, hydraulics, electrical and engine assembly.

“The official opening of the new plant and Training Centre proves that the Engine Plant team is more than up to the task, meeting the strict deadlines for the new buildings, and the upgrading of the existing facilities to world-class levels,” says Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

“Despite the potentially debilitating effects of the recent Transnet strike, the Puma team was able to adjust its planning and logistics to suit, resulting in no delays being experienced in the build-up to Job 1 in April next year,” explains Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa

“At the same time, we’ve been able to further entrench our commitment to quality through the reconfirmation of the ISO 9001:2008 accreditation in February 2010 along with the ISO 14001:2004 environmental accreditation in April.”