The Ford Struandale Engine Plant celebrates its historic 50th anniversary this year, signalling a proud heritage and an impressive track record spanning five decades of production in Port Elizabeth.
The plant officially opened in 1964 in the Struandale industrial area, and has produced over 3-million units covering eight engine platforms to date.
“This is an important milestone for Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, as Ford originally started in Port Elizabeth, which was the local motoring hub in the 1920s and remains one of the region’s most important sectors,” says Jeff Nemeth, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company of South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa.
“The Struandale Engine Plant has endured an ever-changing automotive landscape, and remains a crucial part of our local operations. Moreover, it is a significant supplier within the global Ford network, supplying machined components and engines to Ford plants in North America, South America and Asia.”
Recognized as a global centre of excellence, the Struandale Engine Plant is the only facility in the world that performs dual roles for the Ford Ranger engine program, both machining components as well as assembling the 2,2-litre and 3,2-litre Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel engines.
The fully assembled engines are shipped to the Ford Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria for installation in the new Ranger, which is exported to over 148 markets around the world. The balance of the components are exported to Ford engine plants in Thailand and Argentina.
It has an installed capacity of approximately 220 000 component kits (cylinder head, block and crankshaft), as well as 75 000 engine assemblies for the Ranger programme.
As of January 2014, the Struandale Engine Plant began producing the Power Stroke 3,2-litre turbodiesel engine for the North American Ford Transit that is assembled in Kansas City. With an additional installed capacity for 31 000 engines, this the first time that Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa is exporting products to North America.
“The local team has consistently proved that they are up to the challenge, using trademark South African ingenuity and dedication to produce world-class products,” Nemeth states. “From the popular RoCam engine that reached a final production volume of over 1,3-million units to the new Duratorq TDCi engine that powers the mighty Ranger, the local products and the people that have made it happen have done us proud.”
After commencing operation in 1964, the Struandale Engine Plant’s first milestone was reached just months later when the 10 000th engine was produced in April 1965. Its 100 000th engine followed just three years on, burgeoning to a million units by 1987.
One of the plant’s most successful programs was the trusty RoCam engine, with manufacturing getting under way in 1999 and concluding 13 years later after reaching a total production volume of 1 346 919 units.
The RoCam engines were used in several South African models and exported to a number of markets including India, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina.
In the process, the Struandale Engine Plant achieved ISO 14001 environmental certification in 2000 and, in 2005, produced both its 500 000th RoCam unit and two-millionth engine.
In 2009 it attained the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Certification and was awarded the Maximum Level 8 Quality rating from Ford’s Global Powertrain Organisation (PTO).
The facility underwent a complete revamp during 2010 following the announcement of an investment of more than R3,4-billion in Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. This led to the production of the sophisticated new-generation Duratorq TDCi engine at the Port Elizabeth plant to power the all-new Ford Ranger which is assembled at the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria for the domestic and export markets.
Component machining commenced in May 2011, followed by engine assembly a month later. By November 2013 the local team churned out the 100 000th Duratorq TDCi engine, and followed this up with the plant’s three-millionth engine tally being reach in July this year.
The Struandale Engine Plant has won numerous awards, including 2013 Exporter of the Year from the Exporters Club of South Africa (Eastern Cape), Best Exporter for OEMs, and IDC Job Creation Award. It has also received the SJM Flex Environmental Award for the past two years.
Additionally, the plant’s employee wellness and community support initiatives have received numerous plaudits. In particular the HIV AIDS Wellness Cluster, conducted in conjunction with the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) to support local supplier companies, has been met with local and international acclaim.
The most notable highlight was being named among the best-in-class private sector wellness programmes across the world by the Global Coalition’s Business Action on Health Awards in New York in 2011.
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