Ford's Virtual Tools Prevent Ergonomic Injuries, Boost Quality

Ergonomics and virtual tools are boosting quality and eliminating fatigue issues for assembly operators at Ford Motor Co., the automaker says. It uses a program with digital employees Jack and Jill and a virtual build tool set to test manufacturing feasibility of each part before physical prototypes are built, but the tools also predict and eliminate on-the-job injuries, the Dearborn, Mich., company said in a March 25 news release.

"The goal of our virtual manufacturing tools is to drive compatibility between the product design and the assembly plant process," Dan Hettel, chief engineer, Vehicle Operations, said in the release. "We validate each assembly process virtually to ensure that it can be completed with quality. The quality results of our recent launches show that the virtual process is working." This helped Ford's quality rise by 11 percent last year in the United States, according to a Global Quality Research System study conducted in 2007 by RDA Group for Ford.

The company uses advanced motion capture technology and human modeling software to design jobs that are less physically stressful. "The benefits are fewer injuries, lower cost of tooling changes, higher quality, and faster time to market. We're seeing improvement in every one of those metrics, and our virtual technology is a factor," said Allison Stephens, Ford ergonomics technical specialist with Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering. She demonstrated the ergo technology in a virtual assembly plant, where an engineer wearing a digitized harness, gloves, and headgear installed a virtual center console just as a plant operator would. A computer program used the engineer's movements to draw a digital Jack and displayed him on a large screen. "With this technology, our digital employees, Jack and Jill, are helping us predict the ergonomic affect of long-term repetitive motions," said Stephens. "The impact on health and safety metrics as well as on quality has been tremendous."

Ford said it began using virtual tools to improve ergonomics in 2000 and today works with the University of Michigan and the Virtual Soldier Research program with the Department of Defense and the University of Iowa.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Easy to Use Safety Inspection App

    Conduct inspections on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Complete safety audits at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data and Maintain OSHA Compliance

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus