2017 Ford Escape production underway, sales to begin in May

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 22, 2016

Ford Motor Company revealed that production of its latest 2017 Ford Escape is ongoing with sales expected to start in May. It will offer a host of new features like helping drivers get out of a very tight parking spot, allowing drivers to retain a certain distance and speed while on the highway, and a driver-assist technology that enables drivers to stay in their lane. The 2017 Escape will also have the SYNC Connect technology and it even has the remote door locking and remote start through the FordPass platform.

It will be the first Escape to have the SYNC 3 with the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. By putting extra attention to detail during the manufacturing process, the company ensured that it can deliver to customers an Escape that is of high-quality. It was back in 2012 when the Louisville Assembly Plant started manufacturing the Escape and it will be in this same facility that the latest version will be made as well. Production for the Escape has steadily grown since 2012 in order to meet the increasing demand of the company’s top selling SUV.

In this same facility, 306,492 units of the Escape were made in 2015. While this is considered as a record high, the company continued to retain the high quality standard that let the 2015 Escape achieve a tie in the award by J.D. Power in Initial Quality as the Highest-Ranked Compact SUV. The Louisville Assembly has an area of 3.7 million square feet with 247 salaried workers and 4,722 hourly employees. Total length of the assembly conveyor is around 20.1 miles.

This same facility is considered as the company’s highest-volume production plant as it can make a maximum of six vehicles at any given time. However, since the demand for Ford’s compact SUV continues to increase, majority of the vehicles manufactured at this facility continue to be the Escape. Quality assurance all throughout the plant makes sure that craftsmanship is present despite the demanding pace on the assembly line. Going from one station to another, it is clear that there is meticulous human inspection coupled with methods based on advanced technology.

Vehicle quality is confirmed at every station in merely 45 seconds. The result is that the Escape that comes off the lines are sure to meet the highest standard that North American consumers demand from a quality compact SUV. One such station is known as the automated instrument panel decking. While the use of robots to mount the instrument panels is a standard practice in Ford’s different plants around the world, the Louisville facility was the first to utilize robots for this purpose.

What happens is that from a conveyor, a robot fastens the instrument panel of the Escape and then rotates it to face the shell of the vehicles. According to Escape chief engineer Milton Wong, what happens after that is the instrument panel is angled to the door-less opening wherein the robot then nestles it accurately in place and ensures repeatability. The same robot then secures some bolts in order to hold the panel while workers then labor to complete the detail aspects of this process.

The end result is that customers are able to experience an instrument panel that has a tighter fit and have fewer rattles and squeaks. Another station is the robotic arms hang doors, liftgate. In this station, the robotic arms pick up the liftgates and door panels from the conveyor hanger and then swing it in place with the aid of a computer. This task was originally done by humans but it was shifted to robots when production of the 2013 model year Escape was started in the Louisville facility.

For customers, the experience is that the body panels offer a tighter fit. The third station is called the easy speed testing. Here, the main objective is to make sure that closing the Escape’s door is possible with little to no effort. What happens is that a worker puts a suction cup, one that is supported with sensors, on either side of the door’s opening. The door is then closed by hand and the sensors get a velocity reading.

This is to determine how much effort is needed. Once it is confirmed that the amount of power needed does not go beyond the standards set by the company, the tools go to the next door in order to conduct a new test. For customers, this ensures that they would need the least amount of effort when closing the doors. Fourth is the vehicle on wheels cell. As each of the Escape units go through the assembly line, it will have to pass through this station.

Here, robots with lasers scan the gaps in the liftgate, hood, and door panels. Through the laser, the gaps are then measured and determined if it is within the 2 to 4 millimeter range. The end result is body panels with a tighter fit and a tighter finish. Finally there is the customer assurance line. For this part, an inspection team composed of 14 members goes over the finer details of the Escape units. A group of technicians for example conducts a test on the Escape’s electrical modules.

Another group goes over the engine. For some, a visual inspection is enough while others will need to use their hands. Though it is indeed a painstaking method, the inspection team works with the same precision like that of a pit crew working on a race car. Customers therefore are ensured that the overall vehicle quality is improved. To make sure that the pace is maintained at its Louisville Assembly Plant, three shifts of line workers are assigned to work 20 hours per day during weekdays and 10 hours during the weekend.

The company reveals that during the first two months of 2016, the Escape is projected to remain on the path of beating the record sales experienced in the previous year. With the new features and the company’s continued commitment when it comes to high quality, it will clearly increase the appeal of the Escape. Some of the new features in the Escape include its enhanced active park assist. Ford will also be offering two EcoBoost engines, a 1.5-liter one and a 2.0-liter twin-scroll. Both however will have the Auto Start/Stop function.

Press Release


Production of the new 2017 Ford Escape – available with driver-assist technology that can help keep drivers in their lane, maintain a set speed and distance on the highway, and even aid drivers in getting out of a tight parking spot – is now underway; sales begin in May

New Escape – first Ford vehicle to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – aims to maintain sales momentum and attributes that led it to a tie* as Highest-Ranked Compact SUV by J.D. Power in Initial Quality; Escape is the No. 2-selling Ford vehicle in the United States, second only to F-Series
To deliver top quality, the build process at Louisville Assembly Plant has implemented multiple new attention-to-detail stations that use high-tech methods and human touch to scrutinize every Escape that comes down the line

Production of the new 2017 Ford Escape – available with driver-assist technology that can help keep drivers in their lane, maintain a set speed and distance on the highway, and even aid drivers in getting out of a tight parking spot – is now underway.

The new Escape, which goes on sale in May, will be the first Ford vehicle available with all-new SYNC® Connect technology, making the ownership experience easier through vehicle features such as remote start and door locking via the new FordPass® platform. Escape will also be first to offer SYNC 3 featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

And thanks to multiple new attention-to-detail stations at Louisville Assembly Plant, Ford is putting more emphasis than ever on delivering the highest-quality Escape to its customers.

Workers at Louisville Assembly have been manufacturing Escape since 2012. Since then, production has steadily increased to meet growing demand for the No. 1-selling Ford Motor Company SUV. In 2015, Louisville Assembly built 306,492 units – a record for the nameplate – all while maintaining a high standard of quality that put 2015 Escape in a tie* as Highest-Ranked Compact SUV by J.D. Power in Initial Quality.

“We’re constantly evolving and improving our processes, and the J.D. Power award is our reward,” said David Farley, Louisville Assembly Plant quality manager. “It’s a real tribute to the thousands of workers who help create every Escape vehicle.”

Louisville Assembly is a sprawling 3.7-million-square-foot plant that houses 4,722 hourly employees, 247 salaried workers and 20.1 miles of assembly conveyor. It is one of Ford’s highest-volume production facilities in the world, capable of manufacturing up to six different vehicles at any time. Yet with Ford’s compact SUV in such great demand, most vehicles built at Louisville wear an Escape badge.

Quality assurances are implemented throughout the plant to ensure craftsmanship is maintained at the pressing pace with which the line moves. A combination of state-of-the-art technology methods and thorough human scrutiny is evident from one station to the next.

At each of these stations – in just 45 seconds – vehicle quality is verified to ensure that every Escape meets the high standard for quality compact SUV drivers in North America expect.

Automated instrument panel decking: The use of robots to install instrument panels has now migrated to the company’s plants globally, but Louisville was Ford’s first North American facility to use robots for the task. Here, from a nearby conveyor, a robot attaches to an Escape instrument panel, then rotates toward the shell of a vehicle. Angling the instrument panel through a door-less opening, the robot nestles it in place with unwavering accuracy and assured repeatability, says Escape chief engineer Milton Wong. The robot even secures a few bolts to hold the panel in place until humans can complete more detailed aspects of the process further down the line. Customer benefits include a tighter fit for the instrument panel, resulting in fewer squeaks and rattles.
Robotic arms hang doors, liftgate: Highly efficient robotic arms lift door panels and liftgates from a nearby conveyor hanger and swing them into place with computer-guided consistency. These revolutionary robots were added when Escape production moved to Louisville for the 2013 model year. Customer benefits include tighter fit with body panels.
Easy speed testing: To ensure that closing a door on Escape is consistently effortless, a worker applies suction cup-backed sensors to either side of a door opening, then closes the door by hand to get a velocity reading, which calculates the amount of effort required. Once it’s verified the amount of effort does not exceed the Ford standard, the tools are quickly moved to the next door for another test. Customer benefit is that minimum effort is required to close doors.
Vehicle on wheels cell: As each Escape moves along the line, it passes through the vehicle on wheels cell, where robots wielding lasers scan every gap between door panels, hood and liftgate. Through laser measurement, they quickly determine all gaps are within the 2 millimeter to 4 millimeter range. Customer benefits include tighter fit and finish of body panels.
Customer assurance line: A 14-person inspection team combs over the finest details on each new Escape. A technician tests electrical modules, while another checks the engine. Some rely on their hands; others, their eyes. It’s a meticulous process, as team members work with frenzied precision like a pit crew attending to a race car. Customer benefit is improved overall vehicle quality.
Three shifts of line workers are tasked with keeping pace at Louisville Assembly Plant – 20 hours per day on weekdays, 10 hours on the weekend. Through the first two months of 2016, Escape is on track to eclipse last year’s record sales, and available new features and Ford’s commitment to high quality should only broaden the vehicle’s appeal.

Other new features available include enhanced active park assist. Two EcoBoost® engines are newly available – a 1.5-liter and a 2.0-liter twin-scroll, both with Auto Start/Stop functionality.

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