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Old 12th February 2017, 17:36   #1
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Default A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar

Team-BHP was invited by Ford India to visit their Technical Training Centre in Manesar, Haryana recently. The company has been plagued by the issue of their vehicles being perceived as expensive to maintain for a while now. With this visit, it tried to provide an insider view of the work undertaken in an attempt to show that the cost of service is lower than expected.

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-1486875529118.jpg
  • Ford has 3 more technical training institutes across the country. Two are at its plants at Chennai and Sanand. Another is at Kolkata.
  • Ford claims that every service technician across its dealerships undergoes training at a regional technical training institute before being allowed to work on a customer car.
  • The average duration of a training program here is 15 days.
  • Ford conducts various levels of training here - from a basic L0 course targeted at new service technicians to an advanced L3 course, specially designed for diagnostic technicians.

Last edited by Aditya : 14th February 2017 at 10:13.
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Old 12th February 2017, 17:36   #2
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Manesar is a fast growing town in Haryana, part of the NCR (National Capital Region) and home to the Industrial Model Township (IMT) that covers an area of 1,750 acres and is growing. The town hosts a number of companies across various sectors including the automotive sector. Prominent among those who have set up shop here are Maruti Suzuki, Hero MotoCorp, Triumph Motorcycles, Magneti Marelli and Borg Warner Emissions among others.

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-2-01-47-pm.jpg

Ford's Technical Training Institute is located a couple of kilometres from Maruti's Manesar plant that produces over 3,00,000 vehicles annually. Refer FlyingSpur's excellent factory visit report here.

This is not a full-fledged factory visit report but rather focuses on the centre that Ford uses to train its dealership service technicians. For a detailed look at Ford's production facilities, please refer Team-BHP's detailed factory visit reports here (Pics & Report: Inside Maruti-Suzuki's Manesar Factory) and here (Ford's new Car & Engine plant at Sanand, Gujarat).

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-2-02-07-pm.jpg

The sessions were split into two parts - a presentation by Ford on the efforts the company is taking to reduce the cost of ownership to its customers and a walk-through of the Manesar facility to showcase examples of how this is done. Both sessions were anchored by N. Prabhu, Vice-President, Customer Service Operations, Ford India, a 20-year veteran of the industry.

It seems clear that Ford has identified the perception of their "high maintenance" cars, which took root during the Mondeo / Escort era and prevails till the present day, as one of the key factors preventing it from improving its market share in India. Ford ended CY 2016 in 8th position in the overall sales standings with approximately 3% of market share by volume, well behind the undisputed leader - Maruti Suzuki (at ~48%) and other competitors like Hyundai (~17%) and Mahindra (~8%). Ford sold around 87,000 vehicles in India last year against its rated domestic production capacity of 4,40,000 vehicles.

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-1486875549056.jpg

Set in a mock interview Q&A format, the session started with an elaborate dismissal of the claim that the cost of maintenance of cars from Ford is high by quoting other debunked urban legends such as the Great Wall of China being visible from the moon and coffee being produced from beans rather than seeds. The company attempted to set the record straight by talking about some of its efforts behind the scenes to reduce cost of vehicle ownership. The steps taken include:

Service Price Promise: By using the service price and parts price calculator on its website, the price promise allows the customer to know the cost of periodic maintenance or parts even before booking the service at a Ford dealership. The company claims customers can carry a print out of the web quote with them to any Ford dealership. It hopes to build trust and transparency with its customers through the service experience.

Savings through Sub Assembly Levels for Repairs: This is achieved by breaking up an auto part into sub-components (child parts). For example, the Figo Aspire has close to 850 child parts. Replacing a child part is obviously cheaper to the customer than replacing an entire component, as several car manufacturers, notably the Europeans, are wont to do in this country.

Competitive Parts Pricing: Ford claims to have worked with suppliers to attain increased levels of localization in their spares. The company put up a good show in Autocar India's Spare Parts Price Study (pdf link). Simply put, the survey calculates a basket of costs linked to the three areas where car owners are likely to be hit by cost of spares - routine service replacements, parts replaced due to wear & tear and accident repair parts. Parts of the Ford Figo petrol and diesel were rated the cheapest in the premium hatchback segment, ahead of better selling competitors like the Hyundai i20 and Maruti Baleno. In the entry-level sedan segment, the Aspire was second only to the Swift Dzire, in both - petrol and diesel versions. To keep things in perspective, however, the Mahindra KUV100 outdoes the EcoSport in the compact SUV segment, while the Endeavour is more expensive to maintain than the Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V and Ssangyong Rexton (no data available on the new Fortuner - the segment leader). Also, tellingly, Ford has no offerings in the budget hatchback, mid-range hatchback, mid-sized sedan, executive sedan, premium executive sedan, mid-range SUV and MPV segments, expensive or otherwise.

Parts Availability Outside Ford Dealerships: Ford has made its spares available to multi-brand workshops and neighbourhood garages with the appointment of distributors in 15 states. There is apparently also a plan to make these available online in future. This is a good move to prevent customers from getting tied to authorised service centres for routine / DIY fixes and also to avoid the scourge of spurious parts in the grey market.

Partnering with Industrial Training Institute (ITI): Ford trains ITI students on Ford technology as part of the Motor Mechanic Vehicle (MMV) curriculum. Some of these opt to join Ford or its dealerships after graduation.

There were some other interesting points mentioned in the press handouts, viz. Ford providing financing for both dealer inventory and consumer purchases, the company's Ford Assured refurbished used cars network and bringing custom personalization to the mass market etc. but these were not touched upon in any level of detail in the presentation nor the Q&A that followed.

Last edited by Aditya : 13th February 2017 at 16:02.
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Old 12th February 2017, 17:36   #3
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Moving on to the business end of the day's proceedings - a walk-through of the shop floor led by Prabhu and his team:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-12-56-10-pm.jpg

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The entire focus of the walk-through seemed to be dedicated to the sub-component assembly theme. Note that the "child parts" concept is not exactly new to the industry and Ford themselves have been talking about it for some time now. Still it was interesting to see virtually every core component broken down into saleable elements, some of which are pictured below:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-0.1.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-0.jpg

Front bumper and driveshaft assemblies displayed along with respective child parts:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-1.jpg

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The door skin as a separate component from the rest of the door assembly. In case of an accident, much cheaper to just replace the skin in case the dent is superficial:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-7.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-12-41-18-pm.jpg

Prices of some core Ford spares benchmarked against the competition:
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Sick of being asked to replace your entire bumper for a small bit knocked off by a careless fellow motorist? Here a technician welds polypropylene mesh into a damaged front bumper:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-22.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-23.jpg

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Tools of the trade:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-6.jpg

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The finished bumper - good as new!
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-5.jpg

Watch the video of the process:

Last edited by Aditya : 13th February 2017 at 15:15.
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Old 12th February 2017, 17:36   #4
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Ford's focus on in-plant safety is apparent throughout:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-1-53-22-pm.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-12-55-17-pm.jpg

Safety gear and dress code prominently displayed:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-12-54-30-pm.jpg

Ya think?
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-12-54-44-pm.jpg

And yes, this one ensures safety as well (can tell from personal experience!):
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-photo-080217-12-56-39-pm.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 13th February 2017 at 13:05.
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Old 12th February 2017, 17:37   #5
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There's really no Small & Significant Things section in a thread like this but I enjoyed getting a close look at some of the power plants on display in the engine room.

The path-breaking, if underrated 1.0 EcoBoost engine that does duty in the EcoSport. Sadly, Ford refuses to get its higher displacement siblings over here:
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-engine-3.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-engine-4.jpg

And this V8 monster does duty in the Mustang (no sissy inline-4's for us, thank you):
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-engine-1.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-engine-2.jpg

And finally, this seemed to the most photographed section of the workshop. Wonder why?
A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-mustang0.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-mustang-1.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-mustang-2.jpg

A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar-mustang-3.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 13th February 2017 at 16:21.
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Old 14th February 2017, 10:01   #6
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Technical Stuff. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th February 2017, 15:44   #7
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Very good insight. Looks like Ford has decided to come out all guns blazing. Wonderful to see that Team BHP has been invited. Such social network interaction will go a long way to change perception.
But I would like to share my experience here. Hope Ford would see this post and take note.
My BIL recently requested me to help him choose a vehicle. Budget max 8 lacs. But even before he contacted me, he was hooked on Hyundai. Peer influence. So I did a trade-off matrix with various cars in the market. Ford aspire came out on top. But my BIL was no way interested in Ford. After much persuasion, he visited a Ford dealer, test drove the Aspire and he was hooked. Ended up buying it.

So the issue appear multi headed -
1. customer perception as costly to maintain, low reliability compared to Toyota, Hyundai, Maruti etc,
2. customers does not even want to visit dealership. But once TD done, there is very good interest. I think post TD, the conversion to sale seem high.

Ford seem to be addressing much of item 1 through a lot of media & Social network campaign. But rest of item 1 (perception of reliability) and item 2 still need work.
If customer does not come to Ford, then Ford should go to customer. I stay in Blr. Can Ford have road shows in various IT Tech Parks & campuses here. There are some 5-10k employees in many campuses. Ford can showcase their high end engg, manufacturing, quality control etc to these potential buyers. Show a tear down vehicle. Let these potential customers interact with Ford engineers at the show. Get that high quality perception into customer mind. Have the potential customers TD right during the road show itself for may be a small loop, but use that to show NVH, features, technology etc. The TV ads etc will only have limited impact. But someone who has test driven and experienced an interaction with Ford engineers, will have a much higher conversion rate.
Ford has the potential to take up atleast 15-18% market share in India. Great cars, low cost service, fun to drive, good reliability all are in its favor. They just need to have the customer get some hands on experience. Best wishes.

Last edited by Czarcarsm : 14th February 2017 at 15:49.
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Old 14th February 2017, 16:39   #8
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Default Re: A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar

Nice report Noopster!

Ford has been touting their Child Parts since close to a decade now. This 2010 report got a whole post dedicated to it.

Definitely a great thing to have that flexibility when replacing parts!

The gossip of Mondeo headlights costing Rs. 50,000/- each (not a small amount, especially 15 years ago) definitely played a part in the impression of expensive Ford parts. Then again, they were Xenons if i remember right.

Unfortunately a bad reputation is easy to earn and hard to shake.

Every presentation of compared prices (between brands) always seems to be cherry-picked to suit the manufacturer making a comparison, making it more difficult for customers to actually get a picture they can trust.

That said, service costs are just one (small) factor of what makes someone choose a car to buy.

Last edited by Rehaan : 14th February 2017 at 16:41.
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Old 14th February 2017, 18:50   #9
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Good initiative on the part of Ford India to clean up its image. However, I wonder why some petrol parts have been compared to diesel parts of a competitor. Should those not have been on a level playing ground?

I'm surprised to see that an Aspire petrol's drive belt costs only Rs 150!
How come I was quoted Rs 1800 for replacing my petrol Fiesta's? I don't think labour charges could be that high!

It's good to see bumpers being patched up, but how many centers follow it? I remember on my Figo, both centers in Hyderabad said the front bumper would need to be replaced as it was cracked. Therefore I got it done at an FNG for Rs 2000.

To cut a long story short, Ford should ensure their center's walk their talk.
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Old 14th February 2017, 19:21   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
Ford should ensure their center's walk their talk.
Exactly what I meant. In my earlier post I had asked a few questions which I edited out for brevity such as:

1. What do customers feel about the service now?
2. Hasn't Ford's build quality come down considerably?
3. Have the prices of parts reduced by reducing build quality?
4. Hasn't Ford completely removed the driving pleasure quotient from their current models?
5. Haven't they done this also to reduce costs ?

and more..

Last edited by VeyronSuperSprt : 14th February 2017 at 19:27.
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Old 15th February 2017, 08:17   #11
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Nice report Anoop.

It is disheartening to see Ford immediately seizing upon the opportunity to display the prices of the spares which should not have been done in the first place. This is a technical center and not a sales showroom. Its good to see the centre following safety rules coz I am one big fan of those who strictly follow safety. Any discussion of the quality of the spares? There have been numerous complaints on that front by Ford owners.

In my ownership of the Ford Fiesta, I had seen the service technicians to be duly qualified for the job since the diagnostics was pretty much quick and to the point. I guess such centers do produce quality technicians. Its how the workshop treats them makes the difference.
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Old 15th February 2017, 10:10   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeyronSuperSprt View Post
Exactly what I meant. In my earlier post I had asked a few questions which I edited out for brevity such as:

1. What do customers feel about the service now?
2. Hasn't Ford's build quality come down considerably?
3. Have the prices of parts reduced by reducing build quality?
4. Hasn't Ford completely removed the driving pleasure quotient from their current models?
5. Haven't they done this also to reduce costs ?

and more..
Answers:
1. Very very satisfied
2. Marginally - yes. Considerably - No.
3. Can't say yet. But so far, so good.
4. Have you driven one of the new models? I own one and I can't agree with what you are saying.
5. NA
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Old 15th February 2017, 11:48   #13
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Default Re: A visit to Ford's Technical Training Centre @ Manesar

Few days of planning and prior training would be conducted in preparation for the media day, to ensure the plant is working with 300% efficiency as compared to its normal days.

Here it seems to be just another effort to drive home the point that Ford parts and spares are not expensive as it is commonly perceived.

Last edited by GTO : 15th February 2017 at 13:20. Reason: Removing quoted post which has been deleted
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Old 15th February 2017, 12:10   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeyronSuperSprt View Post
1. What do customers feel about the service now?
I was keen to know this as well, since Ford has been talking about passing the benefits of lowering service costs to customers for quite a while now. No specific data was shared on customer satisfaction- nor indeed dealer satisfaction- though we were told that both were up significantly.
Quote:
2. Hasn't Ford's build quality come down considerably?
3. Have the prices of parts reduced by reducing build quality?
If you're talking about the new Figo & Aspire, they definitely use thinner sheet metal than the previous generation Figo. But Ford also claims they have increased localization levels considerably thus reducing spare part costs. I don't think the build quality is compromised on the Endeavour or even the EcoSport, though I may be mistaken (some owners can pitch in here).
Quote:
4. Hasn't Ford completely removed the driving pleasure quotient from their current models?
5. Haven't they done this also to reduce costs ?
Let's be honest here... making enthusiast cars for "driving pleasure" alone is not a recipe for market success. Especially in the segments where Ford is competing, it's always a tradeoff with prosaic considerations like FE and service costs. Having said that, as already mentioned in my report, Ford does have serious gaps in its product portfolio today that I think they need to address on priority. I'm not convinced it's only the "high maintenance" perception that is impacting the company's showing.

Last edited by GTO : 15th February 2017 at 13:21. Reason: Removing quoted post which has been deleted
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Old 15th February 2017, 13:56   #15
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Its good to have child parts and partial bumper repair to save the costs.
What I doubt is that will the authorised service centre be willing to take effort to properly diagnose which sub part is creating problem and change that particular part and bring their revenue down, rather than fleecing customers ?

Last edited by noopster : 15th February 2017 at 14:04.
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