CLEVELAND — Ford Motor Co. is resuming production at its storied Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1, which becomes the first manufacturing site to build Ford’s new fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines.
The plant, idled since 2007, is ramping up pre-production of 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engines that will be optional on the 2010 Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT and Ford Flex and come standard on the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO.
EcoBoost engines, which combine direct injection technology and turbo-charging are a key part of Ford’s overall strategy to improve fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions across its lineup. The engines can achieve up 20 percent better fuel and 15 percent lower CO2 emissions compared with larger displacement engines without sacrificing power.
"The launch of EcoBoost is the big milestone in Ford’s commitment to deliver affordable fuel-efficient cars and trucks to millions of customers," said Barb Samardzich, vice president, Global Powertrain Engineering. "The EcoBoost V6 is going to achieve the fuel economy that our customers demand, while delivering even more of the performance that they want."
Ford invested $55 million for tooling and equipment upgrades at Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 to build the EcoBoost engine. Approximately 250 employees will form the shift to build the engine. The plant will be staffed by employees from the existing three plants at the site.
The Cleveland Engine Plant has been outfitted with a flexible manufacturing system for powertrains, featuring modern machine tools that easily can be retooled and reprogrammed to perform new tasks with minimal disruption to production.
A new, internal database will ensure quality is built into the engine from the outset. During production, each engine built at the plant will have a sophisticated engine "birth history" that allows plant engineers to track every stage of production. The engine history, maintained in a microchip database, will include hundreds of metrics and allows engineers to trace the precise path taken by any part so any quality control issue can be traced back to its source.
To prepare for production of the EcoBoost engine, the work force participated in an intensive quality training program. Employees learned basic manufacturing operations while gaining knowledge on how to manage their own equipment and work area through "manufacturing work teams" at the plant.
The final phase of training provides employees an opportunity to upgrade skill sets for machining technicians and production team leaders. The plant, working with Cuyahoga Community College, will provide four weeks of onsite classroom training for this purpose, and each student will receive 10 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology.
"We’re working together to keep our site competitive," said Mike Gammella, President, UAW Local 1250. "We have identified and implemented processes and practices to improve quality. The outstanding work force is doing everything it takes to keep the Cleveland site flexible and competitive. "