Ford and Siemens developing manufacturing efficiency app image

Ford is working with supplier Siemens on a pilot project to improve manufacturing at plants around the world while reducing travel costs for its engineers and simplifying workers’ tasks.

Ford, like its competitors, has been using software and virtual design tools for about 20 years to develop parts and vehicles. But the need for speed is pushing them to find new ways to share data quickly, said Janice Goral, manager of vehicle operations with Ford manufacturing engineering.

Using a Siemens-developed software app called IntoSite, Ford engineers can map the plant floor to assemble vehicles in the safest most efficient manner. The software will make it easier to standardize practices around the world.

“This will help Ford better collaborate on the floor, with workers, suppliers and the engineering community,” said Goral. The app allows a smart phone or tablet to access data on the plant floor and connect them to the IntoSite website without logging on to a computer.

The pilot project has been a year in development. Engineers used it to map three assembly lines at the Michigan Assembly plant where Ford makes the Ford Focus and C-Max. If approved, more plants will be included in the IntoSite app.

Google Earth enables them to zero in on a specific workstation, effectively looking through the roof. It details the specs of each part and how many are in bins at individual workstations, said Marty Smets, Ford ergonomics lab engineer.

Clicking on items brings up such information as how the workstation was designed and the ergonomic issues workers face.