Ford goes virtually global

Largest ever implementation of computer-aided production engineering

Ford’s plans to embrace virtual assembly techniques on a global scale represent the largest ever implementation of computer-aided production engineering, the company claimed this week. Other UK manufacturers, particularly in the automotive and aerospace sectors, could soon follow suit.

The move also has implications for component suppliers in terms of early feedback on future product development.

Ford said it hopes to achieve annual savings of $200m (£123m) in design and development costs through the implementation on a global scale of virtual assembly techniques.

The US-owned vehicle manufacturer estimates it will cut manufacturing-driven design changes by 20% during the launch of a new vehicle.

`Assembly techniques can now be developed on computer at the same time as components are designed, reducing the reliance on expensive prototypes e in terms of early feedback on future product development.

Ford said it hopes to achieve annual savings of $200m (£123m) in design and development costs through the implementation on a global scale of virtual assembly techniques.

The US-owned vehicle manufacturer estimates it will cut manufacturing-driven design changes by 20% during the launch of a new vehicle.

`Assembly techniques can now be developed on computer at the same time as components are designed, reducing the reliance on expensive prototypes ea key part of Ford’s CAD-based engineering manufacturing and product information management system called C3P.

According to software firm Tecnomatix Technologies, which supplies much of the key technology, Rover is already using the technology in the UK for the design and production plans for its new 600/800 replacement due in late 1998.

British Aerospace has also recently purchased equipment and other vehicle manufacturers have adopted the technology for one-off applications.

By Arlene Foster