The all-new, next generation Ford Ranger will be produced at multiple facilities around the globe, and the first shipment of the mid-size pickup left one of those plants – Ford Thailand Manufacturing – back in May, while other markets are still waiting for it to launch, though some are experiencing a few teething issues. One of the handful of places building the new Ranger is the Silverton Assembly plant in South Africa, which has undergone quite a few changes in recent months as it prepares to do just that, gaining a new stamping plant and converting to 35 percent solar power. Now, the Silverton plant has also gained a brand new, high-tech body shop to help build enough next generation Ford Ranger pickups to support 100 global markets.
The brand new body shop is located right next to the recently-opened stamping plant, which will allow the pickup’s body parts to flow from one stage of the production process to the next seamlessly. The shop utilizes one of the automaker’s most automated production lines to date – one that contains 493 robots – to transform stamped panels into pickup bodies consistently with high-quality welds, then send those units to the paint shop.
Aside from utilizing hundreds of robots, the new body shop is also chock full of other high-tech features including two inline Perceptron measuring systems, vision systems attached to sealer application robots, and automated handling of the Ranger’s body during construction, eliminating the need to move parts manually, which could result in damage. Like the new Silverton stamping plant, the body shop is also equipped with a GOM ATOS ScanBox blue light scanner system and a twin-column fixed bed CMM (coordinate measurement machine) capable of measuring microns, or thousandths of a millimeter, to ensure that production remains within specification.
“Building a new Body Shop was essential for the Silverton Assembly plant to achieve our highest installed capacity to date of 200 000 vehicles per year,” said Ockert Berry, VP Operations for Ford South Africa. “This necessitated a much higher level of automation to reach our production targets, while also introducing the latest quality control systems and technologies that are essential for delivering consistent, world-class quality vehicles for our local and export customers.”