DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. is investing $60 million to retool molding operations at one of its Michigan parts-making facilities. The automaker said it is spending $33 million for machinery and equipment at its Utica Trim Plant to produce a new generation of bumper fascias and taillamp housings. Ford expects to complete the installation by year's end.
In 1996, Ford plans to spend another $27 million at Utica, most of it for a new operation that will make door panels using low-pressure molding. The process involves injecting molten plastic behind a fabric or skin cover to make a finished part.
``These new products will be produced using the most efficient, state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to ensure high quality and satisfaction to our customers,'' said Don Vonk, Utica plant manager.
The Utica Trim Plant, part of Ford's Automotive Components Division, will use the retooled production capacity to make parts for Ford vehicles. The plant, with 1.9 million square feet, employs about 2,900.
Ford provided few specifics about what it describes as the latest in low-pressure molding technology it is installing at Utica. However, for bumper fascias, it is switching from reaction injection molding to injection molding using a thermoplastic olefin.