Related: Automotive Powertrain
“This is the most dramatic change in manufacturing since the introduction of the assembly line by Henry Ford,” says David Szczupak, vice president, Powertrain Operations at Ford. What he’s talking about in that sweeping statement is Ford’s drive to re-make the way it manufactures powertrains, and he cites the flexible machining lines that will be installed at the Lima Engine Plant (Lima, OH) to produce an all-new 3.5-liter V-6 engine beginning in late 2005 as a prime example. When completed, the new lines will represent the next step in Ford’s plan to modernize its worldwide engine manufacturing facilities based on its strategy: common engine architectures, common manufacturing equipment, and extensive use of flexible CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools. The carbon copy plants that produce Ford’s I-4 engine family began the process of equipment and layout commonization (see “Ford’s Future Factory—Now!”), but still make use of some dedicated transfer lines.
|Ford's Lima Engine Plant began life in 1957 making V8s for the Edsel and has churned out almost 36 million engines since. It will soon get a $335-million makeover to prepare for production of the all-new Duratec 35 V-6 engine, shown here, that will put it at the forefront of Ford’s global flexible manufacturing strategy. In addition to an all-CNC head machining line, Ford will install new lines for cylinder block machining, engine assembly and crankshaft processing. Annual capacity for the new V6 is projected at 325,000 units with production set to begin in late 2005.|
However, the new cylinder head machining line at Lima will be based entirely on CNC machines. Roman Krygier, Ford’s group vice president for Global Manufacturing and Quality, says that with this added flexibility, “We will be able to re-tool in less than half the time with minimal incremental cost.” In fact, he says that Ford expects to save $2-billion in manufacturing costs over the next decade as a result of the introduction of its flexible production system throughout its facilities. CNC machining lines have already been installed at Ford’s Windsor (Ontario) Engine Plant to produce the 3-valve cylinder head for the 2004 Ford F-150 pickup’s Triton V-8, and will be implemented at the Cleveland Engine Plant No.1 in 2004 and at the Romeo Engine Plant in 2005. Ford’s Dagenham and Bridgend engine production facilities in the United Kingdom will be converted later this year.
New Engine Family. The engine that will be built at Lima—which was code named “Cyclone”—will bear the name “Duratec 35” (“35” designates the displacement) when it debuts and will be shared by Ford, Lincoln and Mercury-badged passenger cars and crossover vehicles. It is an all-aluminum, dual-overhead-cam 60° V6 with variable valve timing that will produce around 245 hp. It will have cracked powdered metal connecting rods, a forged steel crankshaft and Ford’s first high-pressure die cast aluminum block (all of Ford’s other blocks are sand cast). “We saw we had a hole in our line-up in the mid-range V6 area, so we designed this to fill it,” says Krygier. Given that this is a clean-sheet design, Ford is clearly looking to create an engine family based on the Duratec 35. “There are definitely some opportunities for higher displacement–3.8 liter, maybe even 4.0,” says Krygier.
Design work on the engine began in early 2000, and Ford has been able to get to the prototype stage this soon because of the pervasive use of computer modeling. “We leveraged CAE and analytical modeling of things like burn rates and NVH more on this engine than on any previous development,” says Szczupak, “and the prototypes have verified the models completely.”