Ford’s most advanced assembly plant operates in rural Brazil

Ford Motor Company’s use of virtual manufacturing technologies is a big factor of what’s behind the company’s soaring quality performance.




As an industry leader in virtual technology, Ford uses digital tools to predict and eliminate on-the-job injuries as well as ensure manufacturing feasibility part by part.

“The goal of our virtual manufacturing tools is to drive compatibility between the product design and the assembly plant process,” explained Dan Hettel, chief engineer, Vehicle Operations. “We validate each assembly process virtually to ensure that it can be completed with quality. The quality results of our recent launches show that the virtual process is working.”

The approach has helped see Ford’s quality improve 11 percent last year in the United States versus 2 percent for the industry average, according to a Global Quality Research System study, conducted in 2007 by RDA Group for Ford.

Ford employs advanced motion capture technology — commonly used in animated movies and digital games — with human modeling software to design jobs that are less physically stressful on workers.

“The benefits are fewer injuries, lower cost of tooling changes, higher quality and faster time to market. We’re seeing improvement in every one of those metrics, and our virtual technology is a factor,” said Allison Stephens, Ford ergonomics technical specialist with Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering.

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