Spain – Accessed through a device worn on the wrist, the Android app helps line workers to make faster and more accurate quality checks. Ford says that at its Valencia plant the new technology has reduced human error by 7% and the length of vehicle checks by seven seconds.
The Bluetooth-enabled ‘portable quality assurance device’ recognises the quality specifications for each vehicle passing down the assembly line and displays them on its touchscreen for a human operator to follow up on and approve, on the spot. It replaces a paper-based system which required workers to walk back and forth to desktop PCs.
According to Ford, the innovation was proposed by production manager Ramón García, after he noted the increasing use of smartphones and tablets by his colleagues and family. The app was developed by Ford in partnership with local software company Visia Solutions.
“It struck me that we could apply similar technology to the workplace – and improve the automotive production process,” commented García. “This technology helps us to better handle the increased complexity of more vehicles and more vehicle specifications being produced on a single assembly line.” Ford Valencia is expected to produce over 400,000 units this year, meaning that the app could lead to a substantial time saving in quality inspection.
“The initial feedback from production line workers has been very positive and we are actively looking at other areas in the process where we could deploy digital innovation and further increase quality and efficiency,” García added. Ford is also looking to roll out the technology to other plants.
Ford Valencia builds six nameplates and additional body styles, encompassing hundreds of different vehicle specifications: the Mondeo, Mondeo Vignale, Kuga SUV, Transit Connect van, Tourneo Connect, S-MAX, and Galaxy. The OEM recently invested €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) in Valencia to transform it into a more flexible, advanced and productive factory.