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Ford’s Valencia Assembly Plant, in Spain, is one of the most advanced, flexible and productive auto plants in the world. Capable of producing multiple nameplates, body styles and derivatives from a single production line, the facility has now delivered more than 11 million vehicles and over 15 million engines since it first opened in 1976.
New models – built by a workforce that has near doubled in the last two years – roll off the line at a rate of 100 units every hour, helping also to create an additional 1,500 jobs for suppliers during the same period. The plant is on pace to build 400,000 units in 2015.
“This world-class facility will help Ford accelerate its growth in Europe and around the world,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and chief executive officer. “Valencia is not only a major hub of production, but also a centre of innovation employing some of the industry’s most advanced lean, flexible and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.”
Flexible, modern and efficient
Vehicle assembly starts with the body. Giant 2,000 ton presses stamp each panel from huge steel rolls, after which laser-guided robots weld them together to form a complete body shell. This includes hydro-formed high strength steel for Mondeo models.
An innovative paint process is then applied. A corrosion resistant protective coating, a water-proof sealer, and a final coat of exterior paint are oven-dried at 180 C.
The marriage, when the body shell is brought together with the engine and transmission, means the vehicle starts to look more like the car or van it will become. Wiring, measuring up to 1.5 kilometres in length, is added; windows, seats and dashboard are installed; and finally doors are attached. Some of the work uses hydraulic and electric robots that are capable of lifting up to a ton in weight. More than 30,000 wheels are automatically fitted, across all models, each week at a dedicated assembly area.
Valencia also is among Ford facilities in Europe that has introduced an advanced wi-fi network for the flexible installation to vehicles of the software required for voice‑activated connectivity system SYNC 2. This enables assembly workers to download vehicle-specific language and navigation packs for up to 1,800 vehicles a day.
The variety of different versions of models available to customers means that, for example, for the Transit Connect light commercial vehicle and the Tourneo Connect people mover alone, there are more than 800 possible variations. In total, Valencia actually uses more than 18,000 components to deliver six different nameplates. Dedicated roadways ensure pre-assembled kits, containing all required components, are delivered to the right place – saving time and effort.
At every stage in the assembly process, Ford’s Quality Leadership System continually checks and assesses every car at stations along the line. There also is a further series of manual and visual examinations.
Handcrafted and individually tailored
The new state‑of‑the‑art Vignale Centre is a specially-created area dedicated to a new range of upscale Ford products, delivering quality craftsmanship, superior refinement, and exclusive specification.
The Vignale Centre blends traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. Each Ford Vignale model is hand-finished by six master craftspeople, using the latest laser and camera technology supporting skilled eyes in closely examining quality aspects including panel alignment and paint finish.
Passionate about precision and attention to detail, experts spend more than two hours hand‑polishing the paintwork to create the perfect high-gloss finish; and also carefully scrutinise the fine detailing and stitching of 40 individual laser-cut pieces of leather trim fitted to each seat.
Only when it has passed 100 additional checks in addition to the rigorous One Ford quality process will the vehicle be handed over to its owner by a Vignale relationship manager in a Vignale Lounge – part of a unique premium customer experience.
Valencia is one of Spain’s top automotive exporters with 80 per cent of its production exported to 75 countries worldwide, including North America.