Ford Motor Company: A Leader of Innovative Production
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 important—if 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.
Ford's Biggest Hits
On August 31, 2012, the Ford Motor Company produced its 350,000,000th (350 millionth) vehicle: a 2013 Ford Focus. With the company's 109-year history, such a feat is described by John Fleming, Ford's executive vice president of global manufacturing, as equivalent to one vehicle being produced every 10 seconds of the company's existence. As the company celebrates this milestone, we take a look at some of Ford's most highly-acclaimed and best-selling creations.
The Ford Model T (1909-1927)
"I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one—and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces." -Henry Ford (1922)
True to that vision, the Model T is generally considered the world's first affordable automobile (costing as low as $440 in 1915). The Model T had a 2.9L inline four-cylinder en bloc flathead engine that produced around 20 hp and gave the vehicle a top speed of 40-45 mph. It also had a 2-speed planetary gear transmission. Built at a time before paved roads became common, the Model T is the first automobile mass-produced via assembly line and the first to be simultaneously produced in different countries. Even today, it is listed among the top ten best-selling cars of all time. An international poll has also named the Model T as the most influential car of the 20th century.
The Ford F-Series (1948-present)
This series of full-sized pickup trucks, known for its reliability, style, affordability, and wide-ranging variety, is listed as the second best-selling vehicle of all time (just behind the Toyota Corolla). The F-150, the most popular in the series, has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for more than three decades.
The Ford Focus (1998-present)
Other than being the landmark 350 millionth vehicle produced by Ford, the Focus also has a monumental achievement of its own. With its impressive handling, competitive pricing, fuel economy, sleek style, and versatility, the Ford Focus edged out the Toyota Corolla to become the world's best-selling car for the first half of 2012.
From producing early cars on dirt roads to innovative, best-selling modern cars, Ford is an automotive legend that refuses to slow own.