The Ford Motor Company is one of the Big Three that did not take tax payer money. The CEO (Alan Mulally), who was not even an auto industry insider, has done an exemplary job of getting the company ‘back on the road’ to profitability.
Therefore, what is Ford doing, and should we possibly consider such an approach in our daily lives?
Ford has a very large plant located outside of Detroit that previously cranked out large SUVs. However, recently the plant has been retooled to make small vehicles in the most modern of ways.
Rather than being rigid and slow to change as in the past, Ford has fully embraced ‘flexibility.’ The automaker has reportedly spent 550 million to renovate the plant so that it can build a variety of models but also equip the vehicles with different powertrains including conventional internal combustion engines or electric motors.
Ford’s flexibility is evident as the automaker is working hard to cover all of its bases. For example, if gas prices skyrocket and consumers demand electric vehicles, the plant can shift to make them rather than piston powered vehicles. Or if growing families become cold on sedans, the plant can shift to build the roomier and sporty looking C-Max multi-activity vehicle.
In the past, Ford did embrace the Japanese style ‘just in time’ inventory and other means for lean efficient production. However, the automaker is trying to go a step further with ‘flexibility’ in its plants. David Cole, chairman emeritus for the center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan told USA Today, “Lean isn’t good enough anymore.”
In a fast changing and highly unknown automotive environment, the ability to be flexible and quickly manufacture vehicles that are in demand results in automotive profits. And profits are what ultimately keep an automaker in the game!
Now, back to the central question? Should we follow Ford’s lead by being highly flexible and covering all the bases but keeping costs and energy levels (the use of our energy) reasonable? I think this is a good concept to keep in mind. After all, Ford is doing something right and it is not a bad idea to follow success!
For more about Ford’s flexibility read my article: 2010 Ford Fusion: A smart game of automotive poker. For more information on Ford’s CEO, Alan Mulally, read my article: Kyle’s Corner (FYI)We are familiar with ‘Car of the Year’ but the ‘Man of the Year’ is …
Kyle Buschis the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: DriveTheBestBook.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.