One Edge. One Ford.
Here’s a prime example of what they mean when you hear the men and women of Ford talk about “One Ford.”
The new 2015 Ford Edge was designed and engineered in Dearborn, Michigan. It is based on Ford’s global midsize platform, CD4, which is also used for vehicles including the European Mondeo, which is close kin to the Fusion in North America.
The Edge is being produced in Canada, at the Oakville Assembly Plant. Ford added 1,400 people to the plant and invested $700-million—Canadian—to retool and expand the facility.
Edges built in Oakville are going to be shipped not only to North American markets, but to South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and, for the first time, Western Europe. In all, more than 100 countries. Yes, other markets will get right-hand drive and a diesel engine.*
Speaking of engines, the U.S. market will have three. There is a 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6. A 315-hp, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. And a 245-hp, 2.0-liter I4. The first two engines are produced at the Ford Lima Engine Plant, Lima, Ohio. The last at the Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 in Brook Park, Ohio.
This international focus in execution and marketing: That’s “One Ford.”
So what about the Oakville plant?
Oakville is about 22 miles southwest of downtown Toronto.
The plant has been up and running since 1953.
In addition to the Edge, Oakville Assembly, which has approximately 4,500 employees, is home to the Ford Flex, the Lincoln MKT, and is where the 2016 Lincoln MKX will be produced.
Notably, not only were the 1,400 new hires given training to help them build the new Edge, but throughout the plant, employees were provided with training to handle the new systems and processes put in place.
So what did the $700-million Canadian bring to the 5.5-million-ft2 plant?
They installed more than 250 new robots and upgraded 1,000 more.
They’re using robots to apply urethane to glass for purposes of consistent sealing to reduce wind noise. New robots are installing panels, doors and hoods, reducing process variability. Robots are laser brazing the ditch joint on the roof, to help provide a smoother finish for the design.
There are vision systems on the line to assure closure panel flushness. There is optical 3D dirt detection tech in the paint shop to locate any imperfections that might not be caught by the human eye.
And at Oakville they have a keen eye on environmental approaches. It is the first North American assembly plant that’s zero waste-to-landfill.
Investments were also made in LED lighting. They replaced some 7,000 lights with LEDs, which is resulting in a savings of approximately 15-million kilowatt-hours per year.
Kevin George headed the exterior design for the new Edge, the second generation of the vehicle. He describes it as “an evolution, not a revolution.”
Meaning, they knew that the first-generation was doing comparatively well in the market, so if you have something good to begin with, there is little point in making unnecessary changes.
George says, “The first thing people notice when evaluating a vehicle is the silhouette. We did experiment quite a lot with different silhouettes on this package, but Edge has some classic features that we wanted to retain.”
So what did they hang on to? “The way the grille is swept back in profile, the short hood leading to a fast windshield. The windshield center line flattens out. We have a backlight that’s angled forward. And doesn’t sacrifice usable space behind the rear seat. We kept the overhangs low.”
But you don’t design a new vehicle by sticking entirely with the template of the old. And the canvas is somewhat bigger as the 2015 Edge has grown in length from 184.2 in. to 188.1 in., with a wheelbase increase of one inch (to 112.2 in.). At 68.6 in., it is 1.6 in. higher than the previous vehicle, though the width, at 75.9 in., is the same for both
“What we changed was the surface language,” George says. “The previous Edge was very modern, and what ‘modern’ sometimes means is ‘reduced.’ It was very clean in its body side. We added sculpture to the body side through reduction.
“Edge had a shoulder that joined the rocker with a smooth line, with one break at the shoulder. We started with that and carved out a new, sort of sexier shape. What that does is make it look more light weight because we removed a lot of visual mass.”
The previous Edge was slab-sided. This isn’t.
“We replaced the monolithic protectiveness with agility,” George says. The design of the previous Edge is “tough like a boxer.” The new one is “tough like a sprinter.”
“For Edge, one of the things that is iconic is that the headlights are joined to the grille graphically,” George says, so that has been retained and refined. The grille of the 2015 model features the hexagonal surround that has be- come characteristic of Ford front ends.
In addition to which, “We retained the three-bar motif, but three negative spaces become the three bars.” In the previous generation, the three bars are two bars of the same size and one big one, running horizontally across the front of the vehicle.
The top of the hood is akin to a power dome. We didn’t want to indicate that the engine is growing in size. So we have these two strakes running down the hood.”
Around back, they’ve gone from vertical lamps that were separated by body color and connected by body color. On the new vehicle, the taillights are connected to one another via a light bar and to the backlight (the taillights are framed in black to match the tint of the backlight).
“Not reinventing the profile was actually a smart thing for us to do because instantly you know it’s an Edge. But when you zoom up and get closer to the vehicle and start reading the details, you see there are a lot of differences.”
The interior design was headed up by Hak Soo Ha. “We spent a lot of atten-tion to detail. On the outgoing model we had a lot of exposed fasteners and inconsistent color matches. With this model, it has really been cleaned up.”
And the inner is in some ways a reflection of the outer: “There are a lot of dynamic qualities on the exterior; we wanted to bring that into the interior. There are a lot of sculptural qualities to the lines. And we made the interior open and airy.”
There is, however, a greater contrast, in some ways, between the interior of the 2015 model and the previous incarnations. He suggests that the inside of the predecessor was “Plain-Jane. Now there is more decorative stitching, the use of piano black for surfaces, and more tailored details.”
What’s more, Ha points out that on the original Edge, there was a hard plastic instrument panel and hard plastic door panels. When the vehicle underwent its mid-cycle refresh, the IP went to soft-touch material, but the doors remained rigid. “On the new Edge, everything that you touch is soft: the IP, the console rail, door, door insert.” Additionally, he points out that while the arm rest was soft before, it was comparatively short. Now it is full length, front and rear.
The final word goes to JD Shanahan, Edge chief engineer, who brings us back to the beginning. “The all-new Edge has been remade in every single detail—always keeping in mind the customer who expects something distinctive and powerful.
“With a structure more rigid than ever and a suspension tuned to the highest global standards, the 2015 Edge is a high-tech utility that delivers a special driving experience customers will feel from their initial moments behind the wheel.”
Note that it is about the global customer.
*This said, it should be noted that there is another version of the Edge, a China market exclusive produced in Hangzhou. It is longer than the Edge described here and features three rows.
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