The roof of one of the warehouses at the Ford factory in Pacheco, Argentina, was raised by two meters. The change was necessary due to the dimensions of a new press, which makes the bodywork parts for the 2024 range of the Ranger pickup truck. The model will be presented in Brazil later this semester.
US$ 660 million (R$ 3.3 billion) were invested in the neighboring country. Even the robots that tighten the screws use artificial intelligence to detect whether the applied torque is correct. In case of a problem, the technology indicates which component must be revised.
The assembly line doubled in size, which allowed for a 70% increase in production capacity.
It is now possible to produce 110,000 units per year, and the largest share should come to Brazil. That’s what happened in 2022, when 50,000 Ranger pickup trucks were manufactured in Pacheco. Of these, 14,300 landed here.
The Argentine unit and its 318 intelligent robots embody the factory 4.0 concept, something that the American brand did not have time to implement in its Brazilian plants. Local assembly ended in early 2021.
“The decision to stop producing in Brazil is in line with Ford’s global vision, focused on SUVs, pickups and commercial vehicles, no longer participating in the entry segments”, says Rogelio Golfarb, vice president of Ford in South America.
If Argentina has the right product for the company’s current phase, this is due to a choice made almost 30 years ago. In order to adjust the trade balance within Mercosur, the automotive industry had to adapt according to the capabilities of the markets.
“Industrial structures were created to balance production between the two countries”, says Golfarb, who was president of Anfavea (association of automakers) between 2004 and 2007.
“Brazil, due to the size of its industry and its market, had the products with the highest volume, and Argentina had those with the lowest volume and highest added value. This explains the concentration of pickup truck production in that country.”
The experience in producing these utilities facilitated the learning of Argentine workers, who underwent many hours of training to deal with new technological tools. Before operators, now they are practically programmers.
The new wings are brighter than the old ones, where equipment dating back to the 1970s remains active. Even when production of the new Ranger occupies the assembly lines, the “old” machinery will continue to make replacement parts for some time.
Ford has not revealed plans beyond 2023, but other models are expected to be assembled in Pacheco. One of them is the Everest SUV, which uses the same base as the pickup truck. There is also the possibility of manufacturing electric cars, something viable after the modernization of the unit.
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