Technology is Key to Ford's Unwavering Focus on Production Quality and Customer Satisfaction
A modern vehicle assembly plant is tremendously multipart and technologically advanced. Ford Company of Southern Africa’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria is skilled in building over 26 000 diverse blends of the Ranger pickup and Everest 7-seater SUV for local and more than 100 international markets.
Everything from major aspects such as chassis, engine and gearbox options to individualizations like bodywork, layout and wheels as well as standard and optional features configurations has been minded when planning and executing the build order for each vehicle that comes off the assembly line and to assure Ford’s steadfast quality.
Ford’s advanced Fits Gate system near the assembly line’s end digitally scans and measures the gaps and flushness between the various body panels. Over 10 000 vehicles are assembled per month under normal operating conditions.
Ockert Berry, VP Operations at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) noted that one of the greatest concerns for customers when seeking to purchase a vehicle is build quality and as a part of their Silverton investment, they have launched the Fits Gate system to guarantee that they will unfailingly produce uppermost quality vehicles.
This new computerized system significantly improves the sheet metal components fitting, despite the production capacity expansion and the task of amplified volume. As a result, a drastic improvement in customer satisfaction locally is visible and testaments that they are on par with the international quality standard.
A handheld laser measurement gauges is used by operators who sweep it over the bonnet, doors and tailgate at various predetermined point measuring the margin and flushness. These are captured onto Ford’s global quality management systems and if a vehicle isn’t in order, it is realigned and the test repeated. Only after the approval will it be released to journey further down the assembly line.
The Fits Gate technology with real-time monitoring allows for early production issue detection to quickly rectify it in the Body Shop or on the Trim, Chassis and Final (TFC) assembly line. Marko Venter, Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering (VOME) Body and Paint Engineering manager at FMCSA explained that the Fits guarantees that every vehicle that leaves the premises meets the international requirements.