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Driving Industry Best Practice

25 March 2022

The Ford Ranger has been around for almost four decades and has become the mainstay amongst vehicles for work and pleasure. Built Tough to Live the Ranger Life, the Ford Ranger is among the top three bestselling bakkies in South Africa and the second most exported vehicle in its category.

The Silverton Assembly plant in South Africa is one of Ford’s global production facilities, geared to manufacture Ford’s iconic Ranger, where two thirds of the Rangers produced are for export. In 2021 Ford strategically invested into the company’s production capabilities, in preparation for the launch of the next-generation Ranger. With almost double the capacity of the production from 2011, the Silverton plant would now be able to manufacture up to 720 vehicles a day, equating to one new Ranger every two minutes.

ElectroMechanica in partnership and through its channel partner Electrahertz, had the privilege of contributing to the major upgrade of the Ford Silverton Assembly plant. To increase efficiency and productivity, whilst adhering to the safety standards, a solution to optimise the fan applications for air supply to the plant was implemented.

Fans in industrial applications are critical for process support and human health. In the manufacturing sector, fans use about 78.7 billion kilowatt-hours of energy each year. This consumption represents 15% of the electricity used by motors. If the filter across the air supply fans becomes dirty or blocked, the motor has to work harder to supply more air, and hence more energy is needed.

To help Ford increase the efficiency of the fans, the Delta range of PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller), VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives) and HMIs (Human-Machine Interface) were utilised. The system was used to control and optimise the air supply to the plant. Using the Delta PLC to control the system, and continuously monitor the state of the field measurement devices, important decisions related to the functioning and performance of the output devices could be achieved. Differential pressure sensors were installed to measure the pressure across the fan filters. An increase in the differential pressure would indicate a blocked or dirty filter. The PLC would then adjust the output to the VFD, which could then increase the air supply and adjust itself to compensate for the dirty filter. All information related to the process, including alerts and alarms was visualised on the HMI. The touch screen HMI displays were all mounted in a customised panel built, tested and commissioned by Electrahertz. The interactive platform of the panel solutions enabled operators to manage the plant operations more efficiently.

The panels were fitted with E-stop safety switches, to stop the fans in case of an emergency, as well as reset push buttons to easily restart operations of the fans, and lastly signal towers were used to attract the attention of the operators should there be a change in operations that require attention or a safety concern that may arise. All components of the Panel solution, including the Delta PLCs, VFDs and HMIs were supplied by ElectroMechanica.

The global semi-conductor shortage as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on freight and cargo into South Africa was no challenge for ElectroMechanica. With sixteen distribution hubs and over 24,500 m2 of stocked warehouses, ElectroMechanica was able to meet the demands of the Silverton project timelines set by Ford. Andrea Cavallaro, Director of Operations for Ford’s International Markets Group was quoted by Ford media stating: “The extensive upgrades and new state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies will drive efficiencies across our entire South Africa operation – from sequenced delivery of parts direct to the assembly line, to increased vehicle production line speeds and precision of assembly to ensure the world-class quality that our customers expect.”

ElectroMechanica together with Electrahertz was privileged to help Ford achieve its new production targets at the Silverton plant, in line with worldclass manufacturing standards. Being a proudly South African company, ElectroMechanica is committed to the upliftment of South Africa and remains totally committed to the founding principle of supplying Africa with worldleading, high-quality products. ElectroMechanica has an established network and reputable distribution partners across Southern Africa, making it possible to service the industrial and manufacturing sectors for almost four decades.

ElectroMechanica is proud of its long standing partnership with Electrahertz for over 30 years. Founder Dave van den Berg has played an integral role in growing a company that embraces new technology and pushes the boundaries of industry best practices, helping manufacturing companies to improve their processes and production capabilities in a sustainable manner