Founded over 100 years ago, Ford is a motor manufacturer that spans the globe and is one of the world’s first mass producers of automobiles, delivering millions of vehicles each year all over the world.
The company is responsible for many innovations we take for granted today, such as the moving assembly line – before, the assembly chassis was stationary with workers moving around it. A moving assembly line meant work was taken to the workers and cut the assembly of a Model T from 12 hours to one and a half hours.
Ford and its teams are constantly innovating and looking for efficiencies across the organisation and in every area of production. In a market that only ever becomes more competitive, reducing time to market, and being right first time, are of utmost importance. This is keenly understood by Ford’s Material Flow & Packaging Team (MF&PE) which saw an opportunity to introduce visualisation into the way it worked.
MF&PE uses the model for design reviews in the following ways:
Using the virtual model enables engineers to review ergonomic and human factors. For example, checking the height of a rack and how easily someone can reach items on it. Engineers can walk around racks, look inside, put in virtual versions of objects into the rack, and overall get a much better understanding of the final design before any installation.
Lines of sight can also be checked to ensure that the layout is as safe as possible for workers and drivers as they move around the future facility. Any changes that need to be made to improve ergonomic factors, or lines of sight, can be tried out virtually with no need to physically install or move objects.
Checks can be done on the movement of equipment as well thanks to the animations built into the model. The movement of a rack on a trailer or trays being lifted within a rack can easily be tested out in the virtual model.
Visionary Render enables engineers to bring in a wide range of data in a wide range of formats on top of standard CAD files. That might include PDF files such as a product datasheet which an engineer can pull up within the virtual model, saving the need to spend time moving in and out of different software applications. This can also be done with Microsoft Word and Excel files.
Many of Ford’s team members are geographically dispersed around the world and so it’s important for them to work together even when not located in the same office, which the Visionary Render software allows for. In addition, during the initial months of the Covid-19 pandemic, using Visionary Render was invaluable in facilitating collaboration, with staff able to screen share the application on video calls during reviews.
“I was first introduced to the VR modelling of the Battery Plant and Instrument Panel Plant during Covid, hence travel from the UK to the Plants in Spain was not possible. VR allows you to explore the facility and really understand the layout almost in as much detail as being there: so much so that when I visited the Plants for the first time when restrictions were lifted, it felt like I had been there several times before.”
Mike Thompson, Chief Engineer MF&PE and Sustainability, Ford
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