Ford introduces third shift at Silverton

From this month, Ford’s assembly plant at Silverton, Pretoria, has begun to operate around the clock

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has introduced a third shift to its vehicle assembly operations at its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria.

The additional shift has created 1 200 new jobs, taking the company’s total employment in South Africa to approximately 5 500 employees. At the same time, it has significantly bolstered employment at supplier companies by adding about 10 000 jobs to the sector. In total, Ford’s local vehicle-assembly operations now support some 60 000 jobs within the total value chain.

“The R3-billion investment in our South African plants, announced in 2017, is now coming to fruition with the addition of a third shift to increase our production output,” says Ockert Berry, vice president operations, Ford Middle East and Africa. “The investment enabled extensive reworks at Silverton to expand our production capacity from 124 000 vehicles per year to 168 000 units, which is 58 000 vehicles more than our original capacity when the current Ranger programme commenced in 2011. The third shift allows us to ramp up our production from the current 506 vehicles assembled a day to a peak of 720 units.”

The plant is operating around the clock from Monday to Thursday, with an additional third shift available on Friday to address any potential shortfalls in the production schedule. “In addition to the job opportunities created for hourly employees, the new shift makes provision for 104 skilled artisans and technicians who have been appointed as permanent employees, thus adding to the skills set of our staff complement at Silverton,” Berry adds.

He says that thanks to Ford’s ongoing investment in South Africa – which reached R11 billion between 2009 and 2018 – Ford’s domestic turnover now accounts for one percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Approximately two thirds of Ford’s local production is exported to global markets, with the balance sold in South Africa and sub-Saharan African countries. The Ranger leads the light commercial vehicle (LCV) sector exports, with the locally built model consistently ranked as the top-selling pickup in Europe.

As demand for the new Ranger and the high-performance Ranger Raptor continues to grow in Europe, Ford has begun to export vehicles through Port Elizabeth – a strategic move to address the high level of congestion at the Durban Harbour’s Roll On Roll Off (RORO) Terminal, which is the country’s primary import and export hub.

The multi-port strategy makes effective use of Transnet’s rail infrastructure to ferry vehicles from Silverton to Port Elizabeth. About 1 000 Rangers are being exported via this new route each month, which has improved the efficiency and delivery timeframes to European markets.

Port Elizabeth is also home to Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant, which supports two global diesel-engine programmes. Production commenced at the end of last year of the new-generation 2,0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines that are used in selected Ranger and Everest models, with an installed capacity of 120 000 engines per year – all of which are supplied to Silverton.

Additionally, the Struandale plant continues machining component sets, comprising cylinder heads, blocks and crankshafts, for the existing 2,2- and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines.

Following the recent investment and expansion, capacity has climbed to its highest-ever figure of 280 000 sets a year, supporting export markets in Thailand and Argentina, as well as local assembly. The plant also ships engines to North America, China and several customer plants in Europe.

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