Ford decides to overhaul its launch process

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 8, 2013

Because of the quality control problems that led to delays of the presentation of several models, the Blue Oval has decided to overhaul its launch process, according to Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, in an interview with Automotive News. Ford Escape and Lincoln MKZ are among the new models affected by these issues.

Hinrichs said that the company studied what it has learned in the past two years, particularly from the launch of the MKZ, and is now making modifications in its development and new-model launch process. He also said that Ford’s resources as well as those of its suppliers were strained because of the fast rate of launches of new or redesigned Ford models the past few years.

As a result, Ford encountered problems such as Escape fires due to defective cooling system software. Quality problems also plagued the launch of Lincoln’s MKZ. There had to be a long inspection process, compelling many buyers to wait some months before the sedans could be delivered.

Ford seeks to prevent these obstacles from taking place in the future by expanding the use of technology, such as three-dimensional computer simulations, to be able to promptly recognize possible problem areas. In addition, Ford has scheduled launch reviews every month.

These will be done by multi-discipline teams formed from its manufacturing, product development, quality and purchasing divisions. The reviews will include comprehensive quality comparisons with rivals’ vehicles.

Hinrichs said that the “most important thing” is for the leaders to discuss the physical product and the team’s issues. Furthermore, Ford will be collaborating further with suppliers by employing engineers and sending them off to supplier plants to help guarantee that production capacity is adequate for the quick pace of launches and midcycle updates. Ford currently has no intentions of slowing down this rate.

Topics: ford

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