Ford India Starts Production of Figo 1.2L Engine in Chennai Plant

With a capacity of 250,000 engines a year, Chennai, India stands poised to become a major hub for the exportation of both diesel and gasoline engines moving into the next decade. The new engine plant is more than 40,000 square metres and will quadruple production capacity of the engine manufacturing facility. Currently, a single production line produces approximately 60,000 diesel engines a year.

Part of Ford Motor Company's US$500mn investment at the Maraimalai Nagar site, the new engine plant is designed to meet the growing needs of the Indian vehicle market and is an advanced manufacturing centre that has been created with the world's best practices for engine manufacturing.

"This engine plant was created with a 'best of the best' approach," said Michael Boneham, president and managing director, Ford India. "We benchmarked against other competitive facilities globally, as well as the current volume manufacturers in India for quality and production efficiency."

Ford Figo IndiaInitially, the plant will focus on the assembly of both the common rail 1.4L diesel engine and the new 1.2L petrol engine. Both engines, along with locally sourced Ford's IB5 transmissions, will be fitted in the new Ford Figo that will be produced at the plant starting in the first quarter of 2010.

The new 1.2L engine has been specifically designed for the Indian market with emphasis on fuel efficiency. The engine also was engineered specifically to run on 88 RON fuel, an important consideration for the Indian market and meet the Bharat IV emission standards, along with complying the latest Euro 4 requirements for export markets.

The 1.2L engine is based upon the family of Ford SIGMA engines and is one of ten types of engines the plant is capable of producing. Displacement for the SIGMA engines range up to 1.6L with engines available with 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmissions. Among the first markets to receive the SIGMA 1.4L and 1.6L are countries in the ASEAN region.

The 1.4L diesel engine that currently is produced at the facility will continue production at the plant with increasing volumes. While the plant has been continually producing diesel engines, the new line is completely flexible and will have the ability to handle both diesel and petrol engines simultaneously, depending on market demand and production requirements.

Production of the engines begins with raw castings of the blocks, cylinder heads and crankshafts arriving from Indian and international suppliers for final machining at the facility. The machine shop encompasses more than 16,000 square metres and will include a fully flexible, four-axis CNC machining centre for the cylinder head, block and crankshaft lines with a central coolant facility.

Crankshafts for both the diesel and petrol engines are machined with a fully automated Gantry loading system. Both forged (diesel) and cast (petrol) engine crankshafts will be machined at the new facility. With the launch of the new Figo, the plant is capable of producing up to 250,000 engines annually.

Following final machining, the inspection process for major components will be measured thorough state-of- the-art Coordinated Measuring Machines. Quality checks for best-in-class metal purity also will be inspected at on-site labs prior to assembly operations.

The new engine assembly line stretches approximately 900 metres and nearly 37 percent is fully or semi- automated. Additionally, the new flexible line is set up to produce all engine variants including 1.2L, 1.4L and 1.6L in both petrol and diesel, with a continuous mixed flow and doesn't require to be "bundled" or batch built.

Best practices, including automation in certain assembly operations, have been adopted from Ford's global operations throughout the facility. In critical areas, including piston and camshaft installation, operations are performed manually by highly skilled technicians. Nearly 52 percent of the parts for the engines, including piston/rings/connecting rods are kitted prior to installation to help facilitate ease of installation at the operator level. With the new expansion, Ford India has created close to 700 new jobs in the engine plant.

Seventy-nine percent of the diesel engine parts and 60 percent of the petrol engine components are produced locally in India. Like the assembly operation for vehicles at Chennai, engine component manufacturers and suppliers are conveniently located nearby for better logistics.

While the Indian consumer will be able to choose either the 1.4L Duratorq TDCi diesel or 1.2L Duratec petrol engines for the Figo, both engines will be equipped with Ford's IB5 manual transmission for the Indian market. Export engines will be produced with either the ability to be equipped with the manual or Ford's new 6-speed automatic transmission.

To help reduce shipping weights, export engines will be shipped minus the transmission. Local assembly plants will complete final assembly by adding the transmission as required by market demand, demonstrating growing supplier capabilities.

As part of the plant's continual efforts at 100 percent quality, four engine dynamometers are located on-site at Chennai. Production engines are regularly audited from the assembly line and thoroughly tested on the dynamometers to ensure quality, performance and durability standards are met. Production validation tests are conducted on all engine variations in these facilities to meet standards that are equivalent to 200,000kms. On road durability and endurance testing in dusty and rough road conditions as well as high idle city driving also is evaluated.

Every assembled engine is subjected to a battery of highly sophisticated cold tests including pre-injection for fuel injectors, sensor connectivity, fuel rail leakage, oil pressure and camshaft positioning. Additionally simulated Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) testing to meet global quality standards is conducted.

Under normal operations, one engine is inspected per 500 built. On new engines, including the 1.2L that will be standard equipment on the new Ford Figo, engineers have been testing engines at increased frequency, followed by a complete teardown to measure wear patterns and any irregularities in the new engine. Quality issues are addressed immediately with changes implemented prior to further production.

Quality levels at the engine plant are expected to reach even higher levels with the new global Class 8 ISO processes and practices in place that insure minimal dust and particulate levels are maintained throughout the plant. The new 1.2L petrol engine will be produced initially in India for Figo and will be a worthy first addition to the family of SIGMA engines.

Export of the engines to additional markets within the Asia Pacific & Africa region and the ASEAN region is expected to begin in 2011.

Source: Ford India


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