Casper Kruger, Ford’s sub-Saharan managing director, says the company sees itself creating job opportunities in the future.Photo: EPA
JOHANNESBURG - The Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa was streamlining the number of vehicle model derivatives it manufactured and imported as part of an initiative to remove complexity in its business.

The company's sub-Saharan Africa managing director, Casper Kruger, said reducing complexity in the width and depth of their model line-up was the easiest example of how they were trying to remove complexity from their operations.

Kruger said that they had already reduced the number of Ford Ranger derivatives from more than 40 to less than 30.

He said they had also reduced the number of Fiesta, Figo and Ecosport derivatives.

“Sometimes, in product planning, you want to make sure that every conceivable customer requirement from a vehicle perspective is met, but it's very difficult,” he said. “We can't be everything to everyone.” Kruger said that they had also reduced the number of options available for customers, such as ordering a sunroof or alloy wheels, because they added massive complexity to their business.

He said complexity reduction made their manufacturing plant more effective.

“If the plant does not have to build all these variations, it becomes more effective; parts supply becomes more effective and it is also better from a dealership perspective, because the salesperson only has a limited range to sell,” he said.

“In terms of production, you become more efficient and the workers more productive and the cost can come down, because you don't have all these variations and you get scale. I think scale and production is so critical. It's better to produce lots of one thing than small numbers of lots of things. That is the basic departure point.”

Kruger added that Ford had in November last year announced an investment of R3bn in its production facilities in Pretoria and Port Elizabeth. This with the objective of expanding its production at both plants to meet local and international demand for the Ford Ranger.

He said a complex revamp of their manufacturing plant in Pretoria had taken place in the past few months to upgrade and modernise the facility to enable it to deliver even better quality vehicles.

Kruger said the capacity of the plant had increased from 100000 to 124000 units a year during the course of this revamp and with small changes they would be able to produce more than 124000 units.

He said part of the investment was to get the plant ready for the introduction of a new model, the Ford Ranger Raptor, which would go on sale next year and they would manufacture it in South Africa.

Kruger said they foresaw creating more job opportunities in the future as production at the plant increased.

He said to increase production would require moving from a two-shift to a three-shift operation and the company would obviously then need additional workers.

However, Kruger said a shift in the plant to a three-shift operation was not on the horizon yet, or in the short term.

- BUSINESS REPORT