Ford Uses Human “Gremlins” to Test Vision Systems
VALENCIA, Spain—Some operators at Ford Motor Co.’s world-class manufacturing complex here spend their day making sure wrong parts and faulty components are secretly placed on the assembly line. They play a key role in ensuring that all engines and vehicles built at the plant meet rigorous quality standards. Ford engineers recently installed a state-of-the-art vision system that photographs, checks and tracks every single part used at the 812,000-square-foot facility. Assemblers build six nameplates and many different body styles at the plant, including minivans, sedans and sport utility vehicles. The vision system captures more than 1 billion photos every 14 days. This helps generate a composite image consisting of 3,150 digital photographs that highlight any discrepancies. “‘Gremlin tests’ are a way of ensuring that new process is working correctly,” says Xabier Garciandia, Valencia engine vision system technical specialist at Ford of Europe. “Faulty engine parts, wrong steering wheels and even incorrect dashboards have been sent down the line, with the [error-proofing system] now extended to all 34 stages of assembly. “It is a game with a very serious point,” Garciandia points out. “The team is really excited when they find one of our parts, and all the time we are making them harder to spot. “The way in which we all use digital cameras has totally changed the way we record our daily way of life,” claims Garciandia. “It is transforming the way we build engines and cars. But, we also have to test the tests. We are doing this in a way that is very simple, but which we believe is unique in the auto industry.”
Some wrong parts and faulty components are intentionally placed on the assembly line at Ford’s plant in Valencia, Spain.
Assembly Magazine Dec 2016
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