Ford Invests $100M in Robotic Laser, Vision Tech
COLOGNE, Germany, June 3, 2011 — Ford of Europe and Ford North America announced they will head a project to install robotic plant laser inspection technology in 17 assembly plants globally, a planned investment of approximately $100 million (€70 million), to improve fit and finish and reduce wind noise, a key quality factor for consumers and a major industry challenge.
Ford Motor Company uses robotic plant laser inspection technology at Chicago Assembly Plant to produce the Ford Explorer, Taurus and Lincoln MKS. Laser vision technology is one part of Ford's overall drive to achieve industry leadership in customer satisfaction. (Images: Sam VarnHagen/Ford Motor Co.)
Piloted at the plant in Valencia, Spain, the new technology is being used during the assembly of the Focus at Ford’s assembly plants in Saarlouis, Germany, as well as Michigan and Chicago.
“Robotic laser technology gives us a degree of precision that we have never had before,” said Ron Johnson, manufacturing quality manager at Ford of Europe. “It scans the dimensions of 500 key areas down to a tenth of a millimeter to make sure the parts fit perfectly and our cabins are extremely quiet.”
Ford Motor Company uses robotic plant laser inspection technology at Chicago Assembly Plant to produce the Ford Explorer, Taurus and Lincoln MKS. Laser vision technology is one part of Ford's overall drive to achieve industry leadership in customer satisfaction.
Building on previous end-of-line robotics, the system now uses advanced lasers and camera vision technology. In the assembly line, the robots precisely inspect the doors before they leave the station, measuring and identifying any points on the vehicle that do not conform to noise reduction standards.
The robots are programmed to recognize any minute deviations from the correct specification and, if any errors are found, will instruct the operator on the correct course of action. Human error is also reduced. The machines are tuned to measure point specifications on the vehicle, whereas previously, accuracy was limited by the subjectivity of a human operator.
To minimize noise, Ford has also tried to pinpoint its source through plant technologies including machines to detect air leakage from the cabin; noise, vibration and harshness chambers; and coordinate measuring machines.
For more information, visit: www.fordmotorcompany.com
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