Big Week for Ford

The resurgent manufacturer announced an expanded OSHA partnership, significantly higher vehicle sales in China, and a GPS-enabled fleet management tool that will increase drivers’ safety.

A lot is going right for Ford Motor Co. this week. The company announced its vehicle sales rose by 14 percent in China, and it featured handyman Mike Rowe in a new video for Crew Chief, a GPS-enabled fleet management system that will increase drivers' safety, Ford said June 7. And the renewal of its partnership with OSHA and the UAW, announced June 6, recently expanded to include Automotive Component Holdings LLC and now covers 27 facilities in five states: Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and New York.

Since the partnership began in 2000, total incident case rates have fallen by 74 percent and days away from work, restricted duty, and job transfers (the DART rate) is down by 88 percent, according to OSHA, which said that 75 percent of the work sites participating in the program in 2010 posted DART rates below BLS industry averages.

"OSHA's partnership with Ford and the UAW has helped significantly reduce the frequency and severity of worker injuries," OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said in the news release. ""The partnership is a win-win for management and labor. It contributes to Ford's competitiveness in the global economy while protecting the safety and health of thousands of workers."

Crew Chief reports vehicle data along with driver behavior. It delivers alerts for seat belt status and aggressive driving, oil life remaining, water-in-diesel, tire pressure, and air bag status, according to Ford. "Driver behavior has so much influence on not only fuel efficiency, but on the overall maintenance and life of a vehicle," said Bill Frykman, Ford Work Solutions product and business development manager. "The U.S. Department of Energy reports that aggressive driving decreases fuel economy by up to 33 percent. With Crew Chief, Ford is deploying smart technology to deliver green driving results."

The product collects data from the engine's computer. What makes the product different from competitors is that no other system can access proprietary Ford data, Frykman said. Crew Chief equipment is mounted under the dash, either factory- or dealer-installed, and once installed, automatically engages every time the vehicle is used. Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Telogis, Inc. provides the telematics software for Crew Chief.

It also collects this information:

  • Vehicle location. Fleet managers can monitor remotely as fleet vehicles travel from stop to stop.
  • Driver performance. Besides seat belt usage status, data will show whether a vehicle is starting and stopping harshly, being used outside business operating hours or outside designated areas, and whether excess idling and speeding are happening.
  • Vehicle diagnostics. Exact fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are among the data shared with the fleet manager.

Ford said Milwaukee-based Joy Global Inc., which manufactures, services, and sells surface and below-ground mining equipment, has improved fuel economy by 10 percent for part of its 800-vehicle fleet through efforts to cut costs that include using Crew Chief. "You don't know what you don't know," said Michael Butsch, director of fleet operations for Joy Global. "Effective fleet management hinges on a thorough understanding of utilization of equipment in the field. By shedding a light on what you don't know, you can train to that and better implement company policy in a way that ultimately promotes sustainability of your fleet."

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