Ford Motor Company needed a light weight seat cross member capable of handling high loads. Superior Roll Forming was approached as a potential vender. Initially the part was extremely complex in design because safety critical fastener nuts had to be integrated inside the actual part so that the component would pass the 2007 updated Federal Safety Requirements – including child seat tether attachments for their Econoline series.
This multi-piece component was being assembled in 20,000 square feet of manufacturing space, incorporating multiple weld cells which were required to perform 26 mig welds and 27 fastener welds to create the final assembly. In addition, each component also had several secondary operations.
When we were approached by Ford as a potential vender, the original part was constructed using a traditional stamping approach from three sub assembled pieces housing 27 secondary nuts. Ford specified that the new part should be constructed from two pieces welded together, but at Superior Roll Forming we knew we could get the job done in one.
The process we ultimately developed for Ford is so unique it is being patented. Our process combined over 500 tons of inline nut instillation, of up to 27 fasteners, and all the pre-punching features in one 300 ton press. The manufacturing saw also incorporates newly designed and patented fasteners and complete finishing for multiple component lengths, all using a common set of tooling. And although we can’t let you see the line on video just yet, the end results are amazing and coming to your local Ford dealer in 2007.
The Econoline rear seat cross member definitely went through an extreme makeover. By utilizing roll forming and our experience, we effectively combined three parts into one. The benefits are clear, the part shed seven pounds of finished weight while increasing the overall strength by 25%. We eliminated the need for further assembly by the customer and reduced failure mode opportunity by 70%. It cost seven dollars less per piece than it’s original design – and that’s just the hard costs. The overall savings are even higher when you add the soft costs, which include reductions in inventory, freight, space, and capital expenditure.
The bottom line, Ford’s cost savings were $850,000 per year in reclaimed manufacturing floor space, capital equipment, and freight and $14 million in component savings, for a total approaching $15 million.