A milestone was achieved by the Ford Motor Company when, on August 31, 2012, it produced its 350,000,000th (350 millionth) vehicle. The vehicle, a 2013 Ford Focus, was built in Ford's newest manufacturing facility in Rayong, Thailand. With its founding in 1903, the Ford Motor Company had been around for over 109 years. 350 million cars in 109 years equates to an astounding production pace of 8,797 vehicles every day, with one vehicle rolling out every 10 seconds. We give you a quick look at some of the innovative practices that have made this possible.
International production (1911)
The Ford Model T was the first car to be produced simultaneously in different countries. One innovation that made this possible was the use of knock-down kits, which were essential car parts that were packed and shipped for final assembly elsewhere. Starting with production in Canada and England, Model Ts were soon rolling out of facilities in different countries including Japan, Germany, Argentina, France, Norway, and many others. Today, Ford has over 90 facilities all over the world.
The assembly line (1913)
Back in the early days of car manufacturing, production was very slow because vehicles were individually assembled by hand. The assembly line changed all that. While Henry Ford did not invent the concept of the assembly line, he is largely credited with revolutionizing it. In 1913, he and a few others developed the assembly line for producing the Ford Model T. By using conveyor belts to speed production, they created the world's first moving assembly line. The rate of production dramatically increased. It used to take 12.5 hours to complete one Model T. With the moving assembly line, that time was reduced to 93 minutes, with a new Ford Model T coming off the assembly line every three minutes.
RUTH Machines: Quality-checking robots (2012)
Sheer quantity of output is not the only mark of a great car maker. Consistent quality is also importantif not more so. Ford appreciates the value of quality assurance so well, it actually designed a robot for that purpose. The Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics (RUTH) machine, a giant robot arm with six joints, is programmed to feel its way around and interact with a vehicle's interior areas in the same way a person would. It allows engineers to quantify attributes like temperature, softness, texture, and comfort. While customers are still involved in the quality testing, RUTH is there from beginning to end to ensure the most accurate measurements and findings.
With this combination of rapid production and stringent quality testing, Ford is sure to remain a dominant fixture in the automotive industry.