Ford South Africa (Ford SA) has created around 1 200 incremental jobs by reintroducing a third shift to its operations at the Silverton assembly plant.
The additional shift forms part of the US auto maker’s $1.05 billion investment in the Pretoria plant to produce the next generation Ranger bakkie, starting next year.
The plant is in the process of wrapping up a seven-week shutdown which saw the extensive modernisation of the facility in preparation for the new model. Production at the plant will include the new Volkswagen Amarok, as part of the global production agreement between Ford and Volkswagen.
The implementation of a third shift sees the local Ford SA workforce grow from the current 4 200 employees to around 5 000 employees, with an additional 440 jobs created at the plant’s on-site service provider.
One new Ford Ranger every two minutes will be possible at the upgraded plant
The additional shift is the first use of a three-shift production schedule since it was implemented as a temporary measure during the second half of 2019 to achieve higher production volumes for the current Ranger.
The added working hours will see the Silverton plant operate around the clock, five days a week. With the additional shift, the Silverton assembly plant will be capable of producing up to 720 vehicles a day, or 240 units a shift, which equates to one Ranger coming off the line every two minutes.
When the next-generation Ranger is launched in 2022, the Silverton facility will have a yearly installed capacity of 200 000 vehicles a year, which is nearly double the 110 000 unit capacity when production of the current Ranger pickup began in 2011.
The new stamping line at the Silverton assembly plant
Meanwhile the company has announced that it has manufactured its 500 000th Ranger for the export market. This year is the current Ranger’s tenth anniversary, with the new model to be launched next year.
New-vehicle market could reach 485 000 units
MD Neale Hill has also said in a report that the South African new-vehicle market could reach around 485 000 units this year, says Ford South Africa MD Neale Hill. This will be a significant increase from the 380 000-unit sales recorded last year.
“However, I’m hesitant about this year’s final number, is because that we are going to see some challenges with vehicle availability. The third wave of COVID-19 is making its presence felt in South East Asia, with Malaysia in particular very hard hit. This country happens to be one of the main computer chip sources for the global automotive industry.”
“The computer chip shortage is really becoming a concern for the automotive industry worldwide. At any point in time we could be managing constraints on over 25 different chips that go into our vehicles. All manufacturers are affected, some to a greater extent, some to a lesser extent.”