Mary has over 20 years experience as the editor of our Malaysian sister magazine, The Tyreman. Based in Kuala Lumpur, she writes articles for us on the Malaysian and other South East Asian markets.
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Angka-Tan Motor Sdn Bhd (ATM) hosted a discovery tour for its dealers and customers recently to the fascinating world of Foton.
Customers and dealers of Angka-Tan Motor Sdn Bhd (ATM) went on a discovery tour recently to the fascinating world of Foton, one of the leading commercial vehicle brand in China. Being the only media invited by the company, ‘Truck & Bus News’ was honoured to have the privilege to write this exclusive and exciting story. Led by Senior General Manager Danny Ng, the trip allowed the Malaysian delegates to take a glance behind the production scenes at Foton; from an empty shell to complete vehicle, ready to go through various tests before delivery to customers.
The first plant that we visited was the Ollin Plant in Zhucheng. Set up in October 2004 with total assets of 2.75 billion Yuan, the plant was officially put into operation in January 2005. Situated on a total area of 734,000 square metres, the plant has a built-up area of 186,000 square metres and a current workforce of 6,500. This plant mainly manufactures mini and light trucks, with a total production capacity of 300,000 units per year.
The plant is clean and neat. During a quick walk through, we could see how the moving assembly lines work. It has two assembly divisions; the first division is for light trucks, which is the birthplace of the popular Foton Aumark C light duty truck, and the second division is mainly for mini-trucks. On average, the Oilin plant assembles 270 to 280 vehicles per day and takes 2.15 hours to assembly a vehicle.
According to Ng, the Aumark C featured the world’s leading powertrain, transmission system and additional advanced technologies produced by Foton, making it an efficient solution for transportation and logistics services.
“Powered by the Cummins ISF 2.8-litre and 3.8-litre engines, Aumark C’s engines are 10 to 20 per cent lighter but with 10 per cent more power than the competitors. These engines could easily complement any drive-line to produce a maximum speed of 115kph, which is 30 per cent higher than the rivals. In addition, the fuel consumption is 8 per cent lower compared to the competition. The weight and maintenance cost of the engine is also lower due to its modular design that results in the number of parts being reduced by 40 per cent.”
Ng revealed that the company’s sales started to improve after the introduction of Aumark C BJ1041 4-wheeler that has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 5 tonnes and Aumark BJ 1061 6-wheeler with a GVW of 7.5 tonnes in Malaysia. He received good feedback from customers who expressed satisfaction with the performance of both models.
Next on the tour was the Shangdong Super Truck plant, which is the production base of Foton’s high-end light and medium-duty trucks. Set up in July 2015, the plant began production in October 2016.
We could not believe what we were seeing. The Super Truck facility broke away from the traditionally noisy, long and labour-intensive production lines. Robots and robotic arms are part of the production team, especially in the welding and painting sections. We hardly saw workers in the body welding section; it is fully equipped with robotic arms and ABB robots from Sweden to improve the quality and efficiency of the welding process. It takes 5 minutes to assemble a truck and on average, more than 200 vehicles are produced every day. However, 8 workers are needed to control the 62 robotic arms, manufactured by Kuka AG, Germany’s largest maker of industrial robotics.
Foton has made significant investments in this section, with the automation adoption rate up to 90 per cent. The reason is clear as besides the engine, defects produced during welding would have a major influence on quality.
The assembly division uses a modular assembly line system that is designed to improve throughput by increasing efficiency. This involves assembling separate modules such as the chassis, interior, body, engine on separate assembly lines before they come together on a final assembly line. The gluing and fastening of windscreens to the cabs are done by robots.
It was amazing to see how they handled the flip of large and heavy chassis with the vertical beam flipping system at the frame section. The automatic and flexible frame manufacturing process is achieved through an information system platform.
Also impressive was the paint section that has reached 75 per cent of automation. Flexible process equipment, intelligent colour switching system and green phosphorus process are among its intelligent processes. The painting process is fully automatic, flexible and environment friendly, providing flawless paint finishes with consistency and throughput.
At the final production line, there were automatic conveying, automatic transfer and modular assembly with modularisation of up to about 40 per cent. The filling section adopts high-end intelligent network vacuum filling and the glass coating and sealing are done by robots, with the automation level at about 20 per cent.
To assure quality, every single truck has to go through a comprehensive set of tests before leaving the factory.
We were told that the plant deployed an intelligent production management system that could control the parameters of the entire production line, while its independent energy management system could automatically manage and monitor energy use. It adheres to the planning concept of ‘zero emission, touchless, automation’ and achieves high efficiency and energy saving in the manufacturing processes covered earlier.
In the aspect of intelligence information, the plant uses Coordinate Manufacturing Management Platform (CMMP), Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Logistics Execution System (LES) to allow seamless connection with its upgraded Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) system, SAP ad DMS system; this covers the entire plant’s system, processes and manufacturing execution to ordering management. The application of information and networking technology enables key data correction and prevents errors.
An advanced and premium product needs to be built in an advanced and premium plant, and this is where the new Aumark S is born.
Compared to the Aumark C that was targeted at the mid-end market sector, Ng said the new Aumark S was designed for the mid-high and high-end market with a GVW from 3.5–12 tonnes. The body width of Aumark S was widened to 2,060mm from 1,995mm and its length from1,575mm to 1,612 in addition to its higher cabin, and that meant it was more spacious. The angle of the A-pillar was changed from 22.6°in the Aumark C to 18 °, offering better vision.
It is equipped with a Cummins ISF 2.8- or 3.8-litre engine, with horsepower of 148hp and 154hp respectively. The engine, stressed Ng, was very light and produced little noise with outstanding fuel economy. He said this model would be brought to Malaysia next year.
We took a ride in the new Aumark S to confirm Foton’s claims that the exterior noise and vibration are lower compared to Aumark C. While the exterior noise was a bit subjective, the ride was quite smooth and less bouncy even without a cargo body. We hardly felt the vibration during our ride, which according to Foton was reduced by up to 70 per cent.
The walking tour not only allowed us to have a detailed insight into how a Foton was made but we also witnessed the effort and seriousness as well as the continuous investments that Foton Motor had committed when it comes to manufacturing a truck. This trip certainly boosted the confidence of its users to a large degree as with even the most lucid description of the best practices and stringent quality control at each stage of manufacturing process that Foton adhered to, nothing could compare to seeing a factory in operation first hand.
我们参观的第一家工厂是位于诸城的奥玲工厂。2004年10月建成，工厂资产总额27.5亿人民币，2005年1月投入使用。占地面积73.4万平方米，其中建筑面积18.6万平方米，现有员工约6，500人。 该产主要生产微卡和轻卡，具备年产300，000 辆车子的生产能力。
走人这个工厂的第一个印象是干净整洁，然后是流动的生产线。它有两大生产线，第一个轻卡车间，也就是著名福田欧马可C（Aumark C）轻卡的诞生地，第二个车间主要是生产微卡。 奥玲工厂平均每天可装配270至280辆汽车，每两小时十五分钟就能组装好一部车子。
“搭载康明斯ISF 2.8升和3.8升引擎。欧马可C的引擎重量比对手轻10- 20%，动力却大了10%。这些引擎能够轻松搭配任何动力传动系统，最高的速度可达115kph，比竞争品牌高了30%。此外，它的油耗量也比竞争品牌低。 再加上其独有的模块化、集成化引擎设计， 零部件数量减少了40%，引擎重量和维修成本自然也比竞争者来得低。”
他透露说，该公司的销售量随着欧马可C BJ1041 4 轮 车全重（GVW）5吨轻卡和欧马可C BJ1061 6 轮车全重7.5吨轻卡的推出而开始改善。他说客户的好评如潮，他们都相当满意这两款轻卡的性能。
黄杰星说，与瞄准中端市场的欧马可C相比， 全新的欧马可S是特别针对中高和高端市场所设计的，车全重介于3.5 - 12吨之间。 欧马可S的驾驶室比较高，车身宽度从1，955mm提高至2，060mm ， 长度则从1，575mm增加到1，612mm， 意味着它更加宽敞。其A柱的角度从欧马可C的22.6 度改为18度，提供更好的视野。
匹配康明斯ISF 2.8升和3.8升引擎，最大的输出功率分别为148马力和154马力。黄杰星强调，它们都是轻量化的引擎 ，噪音低，非常省油。他透露说，公司计划在明年将该车款引进马来西亚。
我们乘坐了最新的欧马可S，亲自验证福田之前宣称此新车型的外在噪音和振动比欧马可C来得低的真实性。外在噪音到底有些主观，然而还没有装上货体的欧马可S 乘坐起来却相当舒适顺畅，颠簸不大。我们几乎感觉不到振动，而福田宣称欧马可S相较于欧马可C 在振动方面降低了70%。
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