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HomeZA LifestyleLifestyle NewsBuilding the Ford Ranger Locally: Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Video at the Silverton Manufacturing...

Building the Ford Ranger Locally: Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Video at the Silverton Manufacturing Plant

If you are anything like us, you’ll love learning how cars are built. The fact that the vast majority of the build process is done by robots these days doesn’t detract from the experience as it is almost balletic and the final assembly is merely the tip of an iceberg of design, testing, logistics, pre-assembly and so on.

While there may be no native car manufacturers, South Africa is home to a large number of car factories set up here by manufacturers from all over the world, taking advantage of SA’s geographical location and workforce.

Ford is one of those manufacturers and it has released this short video showcasing the assembly of the Ranger series of bakkies at its Silverton Manufacturing Plant in Pretoria.

This unique video offers viewers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into production at the Silverton plant. The video highlights cutting-edge technologies and a meticulous focus on quality employed in the manufacturing process, providing a detailed look at how this multiple award-winning vehicle, including South Africa’s 2023 Car of the Year, is brought to life.

Production of the new Ranger has evolved and expanded to meet the highest global demands. In 2022 the plant received a major investment in Ford’s South African operations and supplier tooling. This has enabled a record installed capacity for producing up to 200,000 vehicles per year and, based on three-shift 24-hour production, the plant is capable of producing up to 720 vehicles per day, or one vehicle every two minutes.

The investment in the transformation and modernisation of the Silverton operations included the construction of Ford’s first on-site Stamping Plant, a new highly automated Body Shop, and the introduction of the latest vehicle assembly operations on the Trim, Chassis and Final line.

The Stamping Plant is a 10 320m2 facility which feeds stamped body panels directly to the adjacent and completely new 44 000m2 Body Shop which is highly automated with approximately 493 robots.

In addition, the vast 100 000m2 Chassis Plant in the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) supplier park, located next door to the Silverton Assembly Plant, produces the sturdy ladder-frame chassis for the Ranger, with the seamless sequencing of parts directly to the assembly line. It is the only Ford-owned and operated Chassis Plant in the world.

The Silverton Manufacturing Plant also features an advanced Paint Shop which uses a completely automated painting process involving 62 robots. It also has a computerised Paint Defect Detection System that uses 21 high-resolution cameras that capture more than 3,000 pictures in 15 seconds of every vehicle that comes off the line. Any paint issues are addressed on two manicure lines, ensuring the highest quality before the vehicle moves to the assembly line.

Fords built in Silverton are exported to more than 100 markets around the world, which is a testament to the faith Ford puts in its South African workforce.

10 interesting facts on how each Ford Ranger is built:

  1. One vehicle rolls off the production line every two minutes at Ford’s Silverton Manufacturing Plant.
  2. There are almost 600 robots employed on the chassis line to help maintain production volumes with each chassis taking around three hours to build.
  3. There are around 3,000 – 4,000 spot welds in the body of every single Ranger, and corrosion protection is provided by dipping the body in 12 chemical baths prior to painting.
  4. Every Ranger is covered with approximately eight litres of Ford’s innovative 3-Wet High Solids Paint system.
  5. The 3-Wet paint process ensures the durability and chip-resistance appearance customers expect while helping to reduce CO2 and VOC emissions. This is achieved through savings made from reductions in the size of paint booths, decreasing numbers of paint purging, and ovens required to cure the paint.
  6. Each Ranger, after painting, passes through a state-of-the-art paint scanner. This electronic eye can detect coating defects as small as 0.2 mm2, which is smaller than a needlepoint.
  7. There are more than 2 700 parts in each Ford Ranger. Each vehicle undergoes nearly 1,000 quality confirmation checks before it’s allowed to be sent to a dealership.
  8. A high-pressure Water Test sees every Ranger sprayed with water for 20 minutes, in a controlled pressure test, to replicate the worst rainstorm imaginable. The vehicle is then thoroughly inspected for any signs of water ingress.
  9. Once the final quality confirmation checks have been completed inside the factory, each Ford Ranger is tested on the Squeak and Rattle Track, High-Speed Track and Rough Road Track, and each vehicle must complete one full pass to be approved for release.
  10. One example of every single Ranger variant is removed from the line at random, every single day, and a selection of lasers and cameras are used to check wheel alignment and headlights, while a quick lap of the Steering Alignment Test Track shows if the steering wheel is on straight and the vehicle tracks straight as an arrow.
Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
From an early age, Harry was obsessed with anything that moved under its own steam, particularly cars and motorcycles. For reasons of a financial nature, his stable of fine automobiles failed to materialise, at which point he realised that motorcycles were far more affordable and so he started his two wheel career, owning, riding, building and fixing many classic bikes. Then came the day when he converted his love of bikes into a living, writing, filming and talking about them endlessly. The passion for four wheels never left him, however, and he has now converted his writing skills into singing the praises of cars in all their infinite variety. Bikes are still his favourite means of getting around but the car in its modern form is reaching a level of perfection that is hard to resist. And they're warmer in winter....