Supporting Ford to virtually model and optimise the production lines at their Halewood facility in Liverpool UK which is set to produce 420,000 e-drives per year for 70% of European EV passenger and commercial vehicles. This is being carried out to de-risk the physical installation and commissioning phase of new equipment at the Halewood site.
WHO WAS THE CUSTOMER?
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Michigan, United States.
They have multiple global manufacturing
and engineering facilities across the world, including in the UK. Off the back of a wider investment of $22bn (£17bn) into the global electrification of their vehicles, Ford announced a £380m investment into the transformation
of their Halewood transmission plant, to start producing electric drives for 70% of future European manufactured electric vehicles. The plant will produce 420,000 units / year and secures employment for 500 people. HSSMI supported Ford to secure government subsidy to help anchor it in the UK and went on to help them to de-risk its transformation through the application of digital tools.
WHAT WAS THE BRIEF?
Given Ford’s ambitions to scale up the production of electric vehicles globally, it is important that they set up major hubs for powertrain and vehicle production close to major markets. A case existed to establish a European centre for e-drive production. HSSMI supported Ford with an application to the UK government via the Automotive Transformation Funds (ATF) to secure support to enable the factory to be anchored in the UK. The proposal was successful and Ford made commitments to transform the facility from producing transmissions for Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric drives for electric vehicles. As a major, time constrained and resource intensive project, it was important to Ford that the transformation of the facility was de-risked as much as possible.
WHY WERE HSSMI BROUGHT IN?
Ford sought further support from HSSMI based on our capabilities in applying digital tools to prove out the fit and flow of manufacturing facilities before equipment is physically installed. We had also started this journey with Ford back in 2017 as a collaborative partner on the E:PriME project where the genesis of the manufacturing process and layout for Halewood was first developed and piloted at Ford’s Dunton technical Centre in Essex, UK. So we already knew the process well and had access to many of the digital CAD assets needed for modelling.
HSSMI was also brought in to support the Virtual Commissioning workstream. This involved engaging with vendors, defining requirements, managing inputs and supporting Ford’s global digital team to develop virtual commissioning models in time for digital run off and prior to vendor run offs.
WHAT DID HSSMI DO TO DELIVER THE RESULTS?
- In summary, HSSMI supported Ford across the following key areas:
- Definition of ‘single source of truth’, aka the Digital thread for ensuring no duplication of information.
- Development of 2D CAD Layouts to show spatially how everything fits together.
- Development of 3D CAD Layouts to enable detailed modelling of lines to support clash detection and ergonomic assessments.
- Working with 3D LiDAR scan data to generate accurate representations of the facility in the absence of raw CAD data.
- Working with machine and equipment vendors to secure CAD files of their equipment to feed into the overall digital model.
- Virtual Commissioning of vendor machines to check that targetted production throughput can be achieved and the line is balanced.
- Delivered through a highly collaborative approach with the Ford team.
WHAT IMPACT DID THIS MAKE?
The Halewood facility is expected to come online from 2024, where they will ramp up to producing 250,000 units / year. By 2026, this will grow to 420,000 units / year. Key to enabling this is the virtual commissioning work which will allow them to scale up quickly and confidently, whilst de-risking the chances of making expensive mistakes.
THE HALEWOOD FACILITY HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED MANY TIMES OVER THE YEARS, BELOW IS A BRIEF TIMELINE:
- 1963: Production of the Ford Anglia begins.
- 1964: Ford Corsair assembly begins at Halewood.
- 1976: The facility is rearranged for Ford Escort and Ford Orion assembly. Halewood becomes Ford’s main European production facility.
- 2001: Due to a Jaguar and Ford agreement, production of the Jaguar X-Type begins.
- 2002: Ford Escort production ends.
- 2007: Production of the second-generation Land Rover Freelander and Freelander 2 begins at Halewood. A dirt track test facility is build specifically for Land Rover models.
- 2008: Jaguar Land Rover is sold to Tata Motors. Ford retains ownership of the Halewood Transmission plant and establishes a 50/50 joint venture with Getrag.
- 2022: Ford takes full ownership of Halewood and the transition to electric vehicle (EV) components benefits from £150 million investment, raising total to £380 million.
(Ford Motor Company U.S.A. Plants & Facilities – Ford Authority.
Ford To Increase Investment At Halewood to Scale Up Electric Vehicle Portfolio | Ford of Europe | Ford Media 52 Center (2022))
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