The Ford Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth is best known for producing all of the engines used in the locally assembled Ford Ranger pickup – which is not only one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles, but is also the country’s top light commercial vehicle export, shipped to over 100 markets globally. It also supplies the engines for the capable and versatile Everest seven-seater sport utility vehicle (SUV), which is assembled in South Africa for the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region.
The Struandale Engine Plant, which officially opened in 1964, is currently responsible for two turbodiesel engine programmes, with the first being the renowned Duratorq TDCi – in 2.2-litre four-cylinder and 3.2-litre five-cylinder guises – which helped propel the Ranger to success locally and around the world.
“Well over 700 000 Duratorq TDCi engines have been produced at the Port Elizabeth facility to date, making this a very successful programme for us,” says Plant Manager, Shawn Govender. The assembly line is geared to deliver up to 410 engines per day over two shifts, or one engine every 120 seconds.
“Most of these engines are supplied to the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria for installation in the Ranger and Everest, and we also ship fully assembled engines to Ford plants in Russia, Turkey and Italy for use in the Transit van,” Govender adds.
In addition to engine assembly, a significant proportion of the Struandale Engine Plant’s manufacturing capacity is dedicated to machining of the major components for the Duratorq TDCi engines. The crankshaft, cylinder head and cylinder block are progressively transformed from raw castings to finely honed, quality components on dedicated and almost entirely automated machining lines.
The components are used in local assembly of the 2.2 and 3.2-litre engines, and are exported to similar Ford engine assembly plants located in Argentina and Thailand to support their production. The line is capable of producing 850 component sets per day, comprising the head, block and crankshaft.
At the end of 2018, the Struandale Engine Plant launched its second diesel engine programme for the advanced new-generation 2.0 Bi-Turbo and 2.0-litre Single Turbo and engines that are used in Ranger and Everest sport utility vehicle (SUV) models, from XLT specification upwards.
“We built a completely new assembly line for this sophisticated engine platform, incorporating Ford’s state-of-the-art processes and technologies to ensure the highest levels of quality and performance,” Govender states. With the capacity to produce up to 320 engines per day – or one every 134 seconds, the facility employs a fully automated robotic head sub-assembly line, along with four robotic stations on the main assembly line that apply the room temperature vulcanising (RTV) silicone gaskets on key components, such as the cylinder head, tappet cover and oil pan.
All key operations are monitored by integrated camera inspection systems that capture, evaluate and record each stage along the birth history of every single engine. Integrated into Ford’s global Quality Management System, this ensures that any quality concerns can be quickly identified and addressed – thus providing the highest levels of precision and quality control.
This remarkable new engine family delivers exceptional performance matched to outstanding fuel economy, aided further by Ford’s cutting-edge 10-speed automatic transmission. The combination proved unbeatable during the inaugural WesBank Fuel Economy Tour last year, with a Ford Ranger 2.0 Single Turbo XLT 4x2 achieving a class-winning average consumption of just 6.8l/100km over the challenging 2 500km route.
Best Exporter OEM
The success of the Struandale Engine Plant’s local machining and engine assembly programmes ensures that it is a significant contributor to the domestic economy. The plant employs approximately 850 people, and is one of the Eastern Cape’s top exporters.
In August this year, the Struandale Engine Plant received the Best Exporter OEM award from Exporters Eastern Cape, making it the fourth time that the plant has earned this illustrious title. Additionally, it received the IDC Job Creation Award for the second consecutive year thanks to Ford’s ongoing commitment to employment and skills development through its wide range of learnership, apprenticeship and experiential training programmes.