X3 production ramps up

It is all change at the BMW manufacturing facility in Rosslyn, Pretoria with the first customer X3 models rolling off the production, replacing the 3 Series previously built there.

In 2015, BMW Group announced a R6-billion investment into South Africa in order to prepare BMW Group Plant Rosslyn for the BMW X3 production.

The BMW Group assigns production to its facilities around the world on the basis of various factors. Demand for BMW’s X-derivative models has grown to more than 30% of worldwide sales since the launch of the first BMW X5 in 1999.

BMW Group Plant Rosslyn was assigned production of the new BMW X3 on the basis that demand exceeds the capacity of the Group’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This change has secured the future of Plant Rosslyn as well as the livelihoods of thousands of people at facilities and in the supply chain.

BWM Group Plant Rosslyn was the first plant built by the BMW Group outside of Germany. The plant built the BMW 3 Series for 35 years, manufacturing a total of 1 191 604 units during the period, and increasing production with every model.

With a planned maximum capacity of 71 000 units of the BMW X3, which was later increased (with an additional R160-million investment) to 76 000, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn has the opportunity to flexibly match volumes to demand, and to build more cars than ever before.

Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, says the successful ramp-up of production of the BMW X3 at Rosslyn is a vote of confidence in the country and in BMW Group South Africa’s associates.

“The allocation of production of such a crucial model to our plant is about as big a vote of confidence as it gets,” Abbott says. “The demand for the BMW X3 globally is powerful, and ramping up on time and to the right standards is vital to the model’s success.”

“I have full confidence in our associates and plant management at Rosslyn. This is the team that won the coveted JD Power Platinum award in 2015, showing that a South African plant can lead the world in terms of quality.”

 BMW Group’s investments in South Africa are made in terms of the Automotive Production and Development Plan (APDP), which expires in 2020. Discussions about a replacement plan have been fruitful and are ongoing, and are crucial for the long term outlook as well as the stability of the automotive sector and BMW Group South Africa’s commitment to the country.

BMW Group South Africa is proud of its progress in terms of localising production of as many components as possible for the BMW X3, which makes this model the most ‘local’ vehicle it has ever built. Equally, BMW Group is a leading participant in a proposed venture fund to develop more black-owned suppliers in the South African automotive supply chain.

BMW’s contribution to ramping up automotive exports, large-scale employment in dignified and safe jobs as well as other factors make up the content of discussions with the government, labour partners and component suppliers.

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Capacity upgraded

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has invested more than R125-million to upgrade the 3 000-metre vehicle conveyor system at its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria in order to increase its production capacity for the locally-built Ford Ranger and Everest.

The investment forms part of FMCSA’s manufacturing expansion plans to increase the plant’s capacity by 22% from 27 jobs/hour to 33 jobs/hour by January 2018, following the move to a two-vehicle facility last year when the Ford Everest joined the Ford Ranger on the Pretoria assembly line.

The new conveyor system, which began operating earlier this year, optimises the plant’s automated Electro Monorail System Webb conveyor between the body shop and paint shop, improving overall production efficiency by reducing stoppages.

This means fewer delays in production and an increase in the number of vehicles manufactured for the South African market, as well as for export to 148 markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Andreas Bruditz, area manager for the Body Shop, explained the new system improves the structural capability of the system by significantly reducing and, in some cases, eliminating interruptions between the two production areas.

“The new conveyor is based on similar systems employed at Ford assembly plants in Europe, using proven technology to maximise production efficiency and capacity.”

An additional benefit of the new system is the conveyor decouples the Body Shop from the Paint Shop, which allows one area to continue work should the other have a stoppage. The new conveyor has also created a buffer zone between the two areas, which allows for last minute body-panel adjustments and repairs to be made before the vehicles enter the Paint Shop.