When the Ford Motor Company had an urgent need for a conveyor solution as part of a capacity increase programme at its plant in Valencia, Spain, it turned to Leicester-based LB Foster Materials Handling. The success of the initial project encouraged Ford to place two further orders for conveyor solutions from LB Foster.
Mark Hyland from Vehicle Operations Group Staff team based at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre in Essex explains: “We had been quoted for the work by a Spanish supplier, however, we felt that we could get better value for money from a UK company.
“Researching potential suppliers, we came across LB Foster Materials Handling and asked them to quote on the project. We were impressed not only by their speed of response, but also their understanding of our issues and the competitiveness of their quote. As a result, we instructed our accredited supplier in Belgium, Industrial Engineering Contracting (INDEC), to purchase the solution from LB Foster.”
The initial contract was to supply two 12.6m single-tier belt conveyors for the left and right sides of the chassis lines for the Kuga, C-Max and Transit Connect vehicles. The conveyors were needed to return handbrake measurement tools back up the line to the point where they were needed again. Doing this via a conveyor system saves a considerable amount of labour time and speeds up the production process.
The conveyors were required in a very tight time frame, but LB Foster was able to ship the order on time to Belgium and the conveyors were installed in Ford’s Valencia plant over the Christmas shutdown period. LB Foster’s service levels and product quality for the first order gave INDEC the confidence to place a second order for two 9m two-tier belt conveyors for the door line in the Valencia plant.
This twin-level conveyor was required to transport parts ‘kitting’ boxes alongside the line. The top level conveyor is used to take the ‘kitting’ boxes full of parts down the line to specific locations, whilst the lower conveyor is designed to return the empty boxes to the parts replenishment area.
Following the successful installation of the twin-level conveyor, INDEC placed a further order with LB Foster Materials Handling for two 6.6m lengths of single-tier belt conveyors for the left and right sides of a new chassis line, again to automate the movement of the return of handbrake measurement tools.
“Although these were relatively small orders,” says LB Foster Materials Handling managing director, Gary Bale, “the time frames we had to meet were incredibly tight. It is a credit to our engineers and production team that we were able to hit the client’s schedule dates and exceed their expectations.
“Over the years, we have gained considerable experience of handling projects in the automotive industry and it is great for our visibility to be working with global brands such as the Ford Motor Company, albeit via a third party, INDEC,” concludes Bale.