Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has again affirmed its position as one of the Eastern Cape’s leading exporters after scooping two Exporter of the Year Awards at the annual Exporters Eastern Cape event.
The company was honoured during a virtual awards ceremony — Exporters Eastern Cape’s 25th edition — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday 14 August.
PROMOTING EXPORT EXCELLENCE
Exporters Eastern Cape is a non-profit organisation for companies or individuals participating in exports, either directly or indirectly, and aims to grow the provincial export sector while assisting existing exporters to become more globally competitive.
As an organisation tasked with the overall promotion and development of the export sector, its annual awards serve to recognise the province’s leading exporters and their achievements.
Growth in the export sector in the Eastern Cape is underpinned by the presence of three major commercial sea ports in the province, with one in East London and two in Nelson Mandela Bay where both ports are situated in Algoa Bay on the Port Elizabeth coastline.
The region’s automotive brands have traditionally made extensive use of ports facilities, some of which host berthing facilities for Completely Built Up (CBU) vehicle vessels, commonly referred to as Ro-Ro’s (Roll on – Roll off). Equally traditionally, the industry has also made extensive use of road and rail networks in the region.
Ford, which enjoys historical ties to Port Elizabeth, operates an engine plant in the Struandale area of the Eastern Cape’s largest city.
The Ford Struandale engine plant, which produces two diesel engines for the domestic market and export customers around the world, received the Best Exporter OEM award for the fourth time, after previously earning the title in 2013, 2015 and 2018.
The company also received the IDC (Industrial Development Corporation) Job Creation Award for the second consecutive year, reaffirming Ford’s commitment to employment and skills development through its various learnership, apprenticeship and experiential training programmes.
“It is a great honour to win the Best Exporter OEM category for the fourth time,” enthused FMCSA vice-president of operations Ockert Berry.
“This award acknowledges our continued investment in our local operations, and our drive to be globally relevant and competitive,” said Berry.
THE ENGINE ROOM THAT DRIVES EXPORTS
Ford said fully assembled engines and machined components are exported to several markets in Europe, South America and Asia.
The Struandale engine plant also supplies all of the engines used in the production of the Ford Ranger and Everest at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria — for domestic sales and exports to more than 100 markets globally.
“Approximately two-thirds of our vehicle production is exported, so the Struandale engine plant’s total direct and indirect exports make up the overwhelming majority of its business, and has helped make the Ford Ranger the top-ranked light commercial vehicle exported from South Africa, and the top-selling pickup in Europe,” noted Berry.
WATCH: RAPID RANGER RAPTOR ASSEMBLY
At the end of 2018, the Struandale engine plant officially launched the all-new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and 2.0 Single Turbo engine platform, with production progressively ramping up during 2019 for the subsequent launch of the new Ranger, the first-ever Ranger Raptor high-performance off-road pickup, as well as the updated Everest seven-seater SUV in the first half of 2019.
The new assembly line has an installed capacity for producing up to 120 000 engines per year, and incorporates Ford’s latest, state-of-the-art manufacturing processes that guarantee the highest standards of workmanship, product quality and performance.
The advanced sub-assembly line for the cylinder head features four automated robotic stations that ensure maximum precision in the fitment of parts.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ENGINE PRODUCTION
According to plant manager Shawn Govender, engine production at Struandale ensured the future of Ford’s facility there.
“The introduction of the new assembly line for the new-generation 2.0 Bi-Turbo and 2.0 Single Turbo engines was instrumental in ensuring the sustainability and future of the Struandale Engine Plant in conjunction with the existing 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi component machining and engine assembly programme,” said Govender.
The Duratorq TDCi engine programme has an installed capacity for up to 130 000 fully assembled units per year. The Struandale engine plant also machines cylinder heads, blocks and crankshafts for the Duratorq TDCi engines, with an installed capacity of up to 280 000 component sets per annum.
“The component sets are used for local engine assembly and export to customer Ford plants in Argentina and Thailand,” said the company.
“With the benefit of running two engine programmes, we have been able to absorb many of our learnership and apprenticeship programme graduates into our production teams on the two assembly lines under the guidance of our most experienced production managers, process coaches and team leaders,” explained Govender.
“This has enabled us to seamlessly expand our volumes and meet our production targets,” he added.
JOB CREATION EFFORTS RECOGNISED
“Receiving the IDC Job Creation Award for the second year in a row is a great achievement for our team, and acknowledges the extensive work that has been done to expand our operations with the new diesel engine while maintaining our existing Duratorq TDCi machining and assembly programme,” concluded Govender.
Exporters Eastern Cape has been operating in the Eastern Cape for 40 years and represents industries ranging from automotive and pharmaceutical to agriculture and the services sector.
The judges for the Exporters Eastern Cape Awards come from varying backgrounds and sectors.