Friday, April 1, 2016

Manufacturing Complexity

The Ford Rouge factory is a complex manufacturing facility, complete with green initiatives, ergonomic considerations and vision. Yesterday my son (who is a die-hard Ford fan) and I had the privilege of touring the automotive plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

The robotics were fascinating to watch. Armatures would pick up and place window glass while lasers ensured accurate placement. It reminded me of the old adage, measure twice and cut once.

Hydrolic lifts would raise the body to a comfortable working height. When not in use, tools were suspended at waist level for easy access. Jigs allowed for quick and accurate decal placement. Workers were able to function quickly and efficiently without added physical strain. Frank Gilbreth would have been proud.

We noted the careful planning of electrical grids that would allow for quicker retooling of the assembly line for different models. We also observed the supply chain flow and communication process that allowed the correct color doors and bed to be matched with the cab. And I chuckled at hearing someone testing every horn, at least I think they were testing and not just annoying a co-worker!

If you are ever in the Detroit metropolitan area, I recommend taking the self guided tour of the Ford Rouge Plant. Ask questions of the tour staff, and don't hurry through the plant floor. There really is a lot to see if you watch the processes.