PRETORIA - Ford South Africa announced this week an incremental increase of around 1200 jobs with the addition of a third shift at its Silverton plant in Pretoria.
This forms part of the almost R15-billion investment in the plant announced earlier.
The local workforce has increased from 4200 Ford employees to approximately 5000, along with an additional 440 jobs at the plant’s on-site service provider with 850 people employed at the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha.
The bigger capacity will enable increased production capability for the next generation Ranger next year.
“Our key objectives with the investment in the Silverton Assembly Plant and our supplier facilities are to expand our production capacity and to introduce the most advanced technologies and systems as we modernise our manufacturing operations to bring them in line with the best in the world,” said Ockert Berry, VP Operations at Ford South Africa.
With the third shift, the plant will be capable of producing up to 720 vehicles per day, or 240 units per shift – which equates to one new Ranger coming off the line every two minutes. Two-thirds of the Rangers produced are exported to more than 100 global markets, including Europe where it is the top selling pickup. The balance is sold in South Africa, regularly achieving overall top-three sales.
“It’s fantastic to see our Ford family growing as we head into the most exciting and dynamic chapter of Ford’s history in South Africa as we prepare for the next generation Ranger,” Berry said.
The plant’s assembly line has undergone an extensive transformation focused on upgrades to modernise the facility, enhance efficiency and improve production quality. Ford is also constructing an all-new Body Shop and Stamping Plant on the Silverton site, along with a new in-house Frame Line in the adjacent Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ).
Most of the assembly line changes were completed during a seven-week shutdown of the plant in July and August, with construction and engineering teams moving in to remove the old equipment and install the new technologies and production systems.
“For a while there we were a construction site making cars,” Ford SA MD Neale Hill joked.
“There has been a total redesign of the plant layout,” plant manager Tim Day said. “The progressive evolution of the plant saw it growing organically over the years, which resulted in a less-than-ideal layout.
“We’ve removed roughly a kilometre and 20 transactions out of the previous assembly line flow by eliminating the back-and-forth movement of vehicles within the plant during the various stages of production.
“This will result in all of the manufacturing processes and quality checks being performed in the zone where it’s manufactured, contributing towards greater efficiency and more effective quality control before the vehicle moves to the next station.”
Ford also celebrated a significant milestone in September with the production of the 500 000th Ranger for export 10 years after the current model’s launch.