Ford Invests R600-million in Struandale Engine Plant for New 3.0L V6 Diesel Engine and Upgrades for 2.0L Diesel

Ford Invests R600-million in Struandale Engine Plant for New 3.0L V6 Diesel Engine and Upgrades for 2.0L Diesel

Ford Motor Company announced an investment of R600-million in the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). This investment supports the launch of a new 3.0L V6 turbodiesel engine, as well as upgrades to the existing assembly line for the 2.0L Single Turbo and 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engines – all of which will be offered in the recently unveiled next-generation Ford Ranger pick-up, set for launch in 2022.

“The R600-million investment in the Struandale Engine Plant is part of our commitment to modernizing and growing our local operations, and is over and above the R15.8-billion investment in the Silverton Assembly Plant and supplier tooling that we announced in February this year to support production of the next-generation Ranger,” says Ockert Berry, VP Operations, Ford South Africa.

“Through this investment we are introducing a third diesel engine to the Struandale operations, in the form of the new 3.0L V6 turbodiesel engine that will power selected next-gen Ranger models when production commences next year,” Berry says. “The majority of the investment is going into expanding and modernizing the current assembly line that has produced the existing 2.2L and 3.2L Duratorq TDCi engines since 2011, with 792 000 engines assembled to date.”

The extensive changes to this assembly line will enable the Struandale Engine Plant to run a flexible format, as it will produce the new 3.0L V6 turbodiesel engine alongside the Duratorq TDCi engines. There are 40 stations on the line that will be common to both engines, with a further 25 stations unique to the 3.0L V6.

The plant will have an annual installed capacity of 21 000 units of the 3.0L V6 turbodiesel engine when production commences in the middle of next year. The combined installed capacity for this line is 130 000 engines per year, although it has been designed to allow the split between the two engine programs to be adjusted based on future demand.

“We are introducing Ford’s state-of-the-art production technologies, such as the latest tooling along with advanced camera and transponder systems that are fully integrated into Ford’s global Quality Management System, as used in our modern assembly line for the 2.0L Single Turbo and 2.0L Bi-Turbo engines,” Berry says. “This allows us to record and validate every step of the assembly operations to capture the entire birth history of each engine. This is an essential part of ensuring that we deliver world-class quality for our customers around the world.”

In addition to the assembly operations, the Struandale Engine Plant will also be responsible for machining the cylinder heads for the 3.0L V6 diesel engine. “The investment program includes new equipment as well as retooling, upgrading and redeployment of existing machining operations for the cylinder head,” Berry adds. “The machining line has an initial installed capacity of 42 000 cylinder heads per year for the V6 engine, but has also been designed to accommodate higher volumes in future, if necessary.”

Upgrades to 2.0L SiT/BiT assembly line

“In addition to the new 3.0L V6 engine program, we are further modernizing and upgrading the existing assembly line for the 2.0L Single Turbo and 2.0L Bi-Turbo engines to accommodate design changes for the next-generation Ranger,” Berry says.

“Furthermore, the updates being introduced on this assembly line will facilitate greater complexity with additional derivatives of the 2.0-litre diesel engines being introduced, increasing the current nine derivatives to 13 when production commences for the next-gen Ranger in 2022,” Berry adds.

“This will be supported by a move from the current two-shift production to 2.5 shifts, increasing the 320 engines produced per day when we launched this program to 445 units per day to meet the significant local and international demand for the Ranger,” Berry says. Installed production capacity for this assembly line remains at 120 000 units per annum.

While the number of people employed at the Struandale Engine Plant remains unchanged at approximately 850, the employees allocated to the various machining and assembly lines will be optimized to support the required production volumes for all three engine programs, thus ensuring stability in the local employment.

Plant employees are undergoing extensive training on the new 3.0L V6 diesel, as well as on the updated 2.0L diesel engines, to ensure a seamless production start-up for Job 1 in the middle of next year.

Production at Ford Struandale Engine Plant Surpasses 3.8-million Engines

Production at Ford Struandale Engine Plant Surpasses 3.8-million Engines

Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha has reached several significant production milestones for its two current engine programs in December 2021.

This coincides with the announcement of Ford’s R600-million investment in the facility for the introduction of a third engine program, in the form of the new 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine, and upgrades to the existing 2.0-litre Single Turbo and Bi-Turbo engine assembly operations. These engines will be used in the next-generation Ranger, scheduled for launch in 2022.

“To date, the Struandale Engine Plant has produced more than 3.81-million engines, comprising 10 different engine programs, since opening its doors in 1964,” says Shawn Govender, Plant Manager of the Ford Struandale Engine Plant. “Ford remains one of the key automotive manufacturers and investors in Nelson Mandela Bay, supporting approximately 850 employees at the Struandale Engine Plant, and thousands more in the total value chain.”

Production of the 2.0-litre Single Turbo and Bi-Turbo four-cylinder turbodiesel engines has hit the 175 000-unit mark since it was launched in 2019 for the current Ranger pick-up. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel powerplant has become the mainstay of the Ranger line-up, with the full range of Ranger models manufactured at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria for domestic sales and exports to more than 100 global markets. The 2.0-litre diesel engines also power the Everest seven-seater sports utility vehicle (SUV) which is built alongside the Ranger in Silverton.

“The 2.0L Single Turbo and 2.0L Bi-Turbo engines are modern and sophisticated units assembled on a high-tech line that includes automated robotic head sub-assembly, fully automated sealant application, along with extensive error-proofing and traceability mechanisms by means of multiple camera and transponder systems to ensure the highest level of production quality,” Govender says.

“Having now reached the 175 000 mark, we are proud to be further enhancing the capability of the line to accommodate additional complexity and engine derivatives as part of the R600-million investment in the Struandale Engine Plant for the next-generation Ranger,” Govender adds.

All these engines are supplied to the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria for the Ranger and Everest, with around two thirds of the locally produced Rangers destined for export markets.

“The 2.0-litre Single Turbo and Bi-Turbo engines have been a great success for Ford, providing all the benefits of small displacement such as great fuel efficiency and low running costs, but with impressive performance credentials and refinement,” Govender says.

Duratorq TDCi

The venerable 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engine family has also reached important production milestones at the Struandale Engine Plant since its launch in 2011 for the current-generation Ford Ranger pick-up. Both engines redefined the segment at the time, and contributed to the Ranger’s global success.

The Gqeberha plant fulfils dual roles for this engine program. Raw castings of the cylinder head, cylinder block and crankshaft are machined on-site, and exported to Ford engine assembly plants in Thailand and Argentina. The machined component sets are also used for local engine assembly.

“In December this year we produced our 2.3-millionth machined component set, comprising the head, block and crankshaft,” Govender says. “Over the past 10 years we have machined 6.86-million individual Duratorq TDCi components, which is a remarkable achievement. Approximately 1.4-million component sets, or 4.2-million individual components, have been exported.”

A total of 792 000 Duratorq TDCi engines have been assembled at this facility over the same period, the majority of which have been supplied to the Silverton Assembly Plant for the Ranger and Everest for domestic sales and export markets. The Struandale Engine Plant has also exported fully assembled Duratorq TDCi engines directly to the United States, India, China, Russia, Turkey and Italy.

Technological Excellence in Tyre Development: Continental is Celebrating its 150th Anniversary

Technological Excellence in Tyre Development: Continental is Celebrating its 150th Anniversary

Continental is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2021. Since its foundation in Hanover, Germany on 8 October 1871, the company has been developing pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. From a small factory in Hanover, Continental has developed into one of the global players in the automotive industry, and now operates in 58 countries and markets, and employs around 193 000 people. The Tires business area has 24 production and development locations worldwide, and is one of the leading tyre manufacturers with more than 56 000 employees.

“Continental is the oldest independent tyre manufacturer, and also one of the world’s largest,” says Martin Buday, Managing Director of Continental Tyre South Africa. “Over the past 150 years, we have set standards across the tyre industry with our pioneering spirit and innovative strength. Continental has a long and exceptionally proud heritage of delivering ground-breaking inventions that ensured that tyres became safer and more efficient, and this also defines our approach towards a more sustainable and even more exciting future.”

In its early days, Continental’s product range included a variety of rubber products such as toy balls, rubber mats, roller coverings, rubberised fabrics for balloons and solid tyres for carriages and bicycles. Continental was the first German company to produce pneumatic bicycle tyres in the late 1800s, and in 1898, the production of pneumatic tyres for cars began. The first pneumatics were treadless and had comparatively limited handling characteristics, at least by today’s standards – and so Continental presented the world’s first car tyre with a tread in 1904.

Some of the other significant milestones in Continental’s tyre development include the first tyre with a detachable rim, the patent for the world’s first tubeless tyre and, with the “all-terrain” model, the first dedicated winter tyre. Likewise, the first pneumatic tractor tyre came from Continental. Later came the first rolling resistance-optimized tyre, and the first production tyre to feature a tread made from dandelion rubber.

State-of-the-art tyre testing

Before a new tyre from Continental is launched on the market, it has to successfully pass a wide range of tests. In total, new tyre models cover 25 million test kilometres before the start of production. The enormous effort is justified, because it is the foundation for the quality of Continental tyres for all applications, under even the most extreme conditions. An example of this is the ContiSportContact Vmax, which was launched in 2003 as the only production tyre on the market with a maximum speed rating of 360 km/h.

For the testing of tyres in all conceivable conditions, Continental maintains state-of-the-art tyre testing facilities worldwide. The Contidrom, near Hanover, was the prototype when it opened in 1967, and has become the reference for all Continental tyre test centres around the world.

As early as 1968 the first electronically-controlled driverless car took to the track at the Contidrom. Continental has further developed this technology and now uses it at the test site in Uvalde in Texas, to subject tyres to endurance tests. In 2012 Continental launched the Automated Indoor Braking Analyser (AIBA) at the Contidrom. This facility, which is the only one of its kind in the world, enables the brake performance of tyres on different road surfaces to be tested all year round, regardless of the weather. It is done fully automatically using unmanned vehicles.

In the future tyres will also be tested at Contidrom in a new type of dynamic driving simulator. Thus, professional test drivers will also be carrying out realistic driving scenarios virtually. Having each test cycle completed in the driving simulator instead of on real roadways means fewer test tyres need to be produced. This investment in the new testing technology also contributes to Continental’s extensive sustainability efforts.

Sustainability and Vision 2030

Continental has been committed to greater sustainability in the tyre and automotive industry for decades, with one example being the extensive research in developing tyres with optimized rolling resistance. The ContiEcoContact, which was first presented in 1993, combined environmental benefits and economic aspects with outstanding driving and safety characteristics.

The industry has increasingly been facing the major challenges of finite raw materials and the need to reduce CO2 emissions. Accordingly, Continental has focused on the strategic topics of climate action, low-emission mobility, the circular economy and sustainable supply chains.

In 2013, Continental opened its unique ContiLifeCycle plant in Hanover Stöcken, with an integrated approach to retreading for truck and bus tyres, and a specially developed industrial-scale rubber recycling plant.

“Continental set out its new strategic program for the Tires business area at the end of 2020, called Vision 2030,” Buday says. “This is focused on the systematic customer-centric alignment of the organization and all our business activities. We are targeting further profitable growth and, in a fast-changing market environment, aiming to set ourselves apart from the competition in respect of sustainability.”

In April 2020, Continental created its new Sustainability department, which invests in research and development in the fields of new technologies, alternative materials and environmentally compatible production processes. “Through these efforts, by 2050 we are aiming to gradually transition to 100 percent sustainably produced materials in all of our tyre products,” Buday says.

This process has already started with the industrialisation of the cultivation of dandelion rubber. The Urban Taraxagum bicycle tyre, available on the market since 2019 and produced at Continental’s tyre plant in Korbach, Germany, is the first serial product made of dandelion rubber. In addition to bicycle tyres, Continental is aiming to use Taraxagum for a wide range of other products, such as car and truck tyres, agricultural tyres and technical rubber goods.

The Tires business area is already an industry leader in the efficient and sustainable use of water and energy. Today Continental consumes 55 percent less water and 17 percent less energy than the industry average. By 2030, it aims to save an additional 20 percent in each area.

Furthermore, as of 2022 Continental will use reprocessed polyester obtained from recycled plastic bottles in its tyre production. The new sustainable polyester yarn will be obtained from PET bottles and will be used in the construction of the tyre carcass. In time, this will completely replace conventional polyester. Today, a conventional passenger car tyre consists of around 400 grams of polyester yarn. This means that more than 60 recycled PET bottles can be used for a complete set of vehicle tyres in the future.

Extreme E

Further supporting its drive towards sustainability, Continental is proud to be a founding partner and the official tyre supplier to the innovative Extreme E all-electric racing series. Through its involvement in the series, Continental together with Extreme E are drawing attention to the challenges of climate change occurring worldwide.

It also allows the tyre company to demonstrate its technological capabilities in racing with the specially developed CrossContact off-road tyre which was designed to meet the challenges of Extreme E and some of the toughest conditions imaginable – ranging from the arid desert of Saudi Arabia to the arctic landscapes of Greenland.

South African legacy

Continental Tyre South Africa is 74 years old in 2021 and currently employs around 1 100 people, with its head office and tyre manufacturing plant located in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth).

Originally founded as a joint venture between General Tire International in the US and the local Williams Hunt Group, the General Tire and Rubber Company South Africa was officially registered in January 1947. The local operation was acquired by Continental AG in 1998 and renamed Continental Tyre South Africa. This created the foundation to become one of SA’s leading tyre manufacturers, supplying original equipment tyres to seven of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the country.

“With a large number of these OEMs exporting vehicles around the world, Continental tyres produced in South Africa form an important part of the global automotive supply chain, and this is something that we are extremely proud of at Continental Tyre SA,” Buday says. “Our local plant has benefitted from investments and upgrades worth almost R1-billion over the past decade, and in 2019 we became the first tyre manufacturer in the country to produce a 19-inch tyre on South African soil, in the form of the General Grabber AT3. This was a significant achievement for the domestic operations and opened the door for further expansion in the crucial OE and replacement tyre business.”

One of the recent, major achievements for the company was the selection of the locally produced General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyre as OE fitment on the Ford Ranger Raptor, which is assembled at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant – both for the domestic market and for export around the world. The Grabber AT3 is also OE fitment on the Isuzu D-Max, and is one of the leading contenders in the replacement market too. Numerous independent tests have proven the Grabber AT3 to be the benchmark in the all-terrain tyre segment, with its 50/50 on-road/off-road design delivering well-balanced performance for all surfaces.

The company’s ongoing investment to reduce the environmental impact of its local operations continues as it strives to lower CO2 emissions, cut back on energy and water consumption and reduce the amount of waste generated. Earlier this year, Continental Tyre SA received the Industrial Corporate Project of the Year award for 2020 from the South African Energy Efficiency Confederation for the heat recovery project implemented at the plant. In 2019 alone this initiative saved 4.5 million kWh of energy and over R1-million. It continues to benefit operating efficiencies and reduce the plant’s environmental impact.

Isuzu updates Minister Ebrahim Patel on its R1.2-billion Gqeberha plant investment

Isuzu updates Minister Ebrahim Patel on its R1.2-billion Gqeberha plant investment

Isuzu Motors South Africa welcomed a high-ranking government delegation on the 25th of October, led by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic), Ebrahim Patel.

During the Minister’s courtesy visit to the Eastern Cape vehicle manufacturer’s production facilities in Struandale, Gqeberha, the Minister met with President and CEO, Billy Tom and Isuzu senior leadership to discuss key priorities relating to the business.

Patel previously visited Isuzu in 2019, shortly before an announcement that Isuzu would be investing R1.2-billion into its next generation bakkie programme in South Africa for the South African and Sub-Saharan Africa markets. The decision resulted in the security of 1,000 jobs directly at Isuzu’s operations in Gqeberha and across its national and international dealer network, as well as around 25,000 jobs at hundreds of suppliers across the country.

Tom updated the ministerial delegation on the progress made on the investment, including manufacturing plant upgrades to meet the new vehicle requirements and the state of readiness to launch exciting new Isuzu products into the market. The new Isuzu D-MAX bakkie will be launched early next year, and 2022 will also see the launch of Isuzu’s next generation trucks – all locally manufactured in Gqeberha.

Extensive building has taken place over the past two years to ready the production facilities for the brand-new Isuzu light commercial and heavy commercial vehicles. The investment also involves significant upgrades to tooling and equipment, as well as refurbishing the current line to support an extension in the manufacturing of current Isuzu models. In addition to the upskilling and training of staff, Isuzu has also embarked on rigorous testing of vehicles to ensure Isuzu’s promise of producing durable, reliable and capable vehicles reengineered for African driving conditions.

“Our focus remains on being able to ensure the sustainability of Isuzu’s operations in South Africa. We are committed to transformation and believe that an inclusive economy is the foundation to economic prosperity for all citizens,” said Tom.

In September Isuzu announced it had maintained an automotive industry-leading level one in its Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment audit for a second consecutive year.

“We ascribe to the 2035 vision of the South Africa Automotive Masterplan to be a globally competitive and transformed industry that actively contributes to the sustainable development of South Africa’s productive economy,” he concluded.

While no jobs at Isuzu Motors South Africa were lost during the pandemic in 2020 as a result of adjusted shifts, four-day work weeks and a salary freeze for management, Tom said he was looking forward to pre-COVID economic growth in the country. In 2019, the automotive industry contributed approximately 7% to South Africa’s GDP, supporting more than 100 000 jobs.

Isuzu grew its market share on the D-MAX bakkie in 2020/ 2021 and maintained the number one position for market share with its N and F-Series trucks in the South African market.

Caption: FROM LEFT: Ebrahim Patel Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa and Billy Tom President and CEO of Isuzu Motors South Africa.