Since 1999, Ford plants have been presenting this coveted award in ten categories in which three suppliers reach the final round in each category. In the “Machines & Equipment” category, three companies advanced to the finals: Falcare (painting systems), Schuler (presses) and GROB do Brasil (machine tools). In the end, GROB do Brasil, with the proverbial quality of its products and reliable teamwork, was able to prevail, thus winning the award. “We are very proud of this award,” said Michael Bauer, President of GROB do Brasil, after the ceremony. “This is an especially important recognition of our work and highly favorable estimation by Ford with respect to GROB do Brasil.” And not just that. The Ford Supplier Award is likewise significant for the entire GROB Group, since it is not only classified as a top supplier to Ford, but the prize also represents additional proof of confidence in the cooperation between both companies.
A new era of cooperation
Starting more than fifteen years ago, GROB do Brasil was able to supply individual rotary table machines to Ford, but was not able to receive larger contracts. All that changed three years ago when Sigma Motor arrived in the Brazilian market, and GROB do Brasil supplied complete lines for producing cylinder heads and engine blocks at the Ford Taubaté plant. At that time, the project was initiated by GROB Mindelheim in conjunction with Ford Dunton in England and completed by GROB do Brasil and a British team from Dunton in the Ford Taubaté plant, located 120 kilometers from the GROB do Brasil facility. Our colleagues in Mindelheim handled project management up to provisional acceptance in Brazil.
The recent 2012/2013 SIGMA project involved capacity expansion for Sigma Motor that was directly implemented on-site with the planning team of Ford Brazil. For the engine block line, GROB do Brasil only supplied additional machinery for the existing production lines. However, a new line was required to expand cylinder head production capacity, since Ford wanted to work with workpiece carrier adapter plates and required fully-automatic machine loading.
MQL technology for new Ford engine plant
But GROB do Brasil was able to show its superiority beyond the SIGMA project. When Ford invested in a new engine plant in Camacari, about 2,000 kilometers northeast of São Paolo, GROB provided the entire lines for cylinder heads and engine blocks, a project worth approximately 33 million euros. Most recently the FOX 3-cylinder engine has been produced here. A new feature was, that after an initial delay, we were able to supply a total of 34 G500 AB machines using minimum quantity lubrication (MQL). The FOX engine project was managed jointly by the Ford USA team in Dearborn and GROB Brazil.
But this project particularly presented our colleagues at GROB do Brasil with challenges that could not be anticipated in advance. Since the plant was built directly on the sea due to logistical reasons, the machinery could only be set up and operated using an adequate ventilation system because of the onshore winds with their heavy salt content. And, of all things, this equipment was not delivered on time. Consequently, the machinery for the new lines had to be transported in seaworthy crates more than 2,000 kilometers via truck and then warehoused several months until the production halls were finished. “Meanwhile, the lines have been completely turned over to production,” stated Michael Bauer, President of GROB do Brasil. “It was a long but successful road that demanded everything of us. Yet the first FOX engine has recently rolled off the production line, and we have one of the most worthwhile awards in our hands.”