Ford is holding simulation training to new Flat Rock hires before launching the 2014 Fusion

Article by Anita Panait, on August 13, 2013

Ford Motor Co. is providing more training to its workers at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant before launching the 2014 Fusion, to prevent further botched launches. Ford has employed around 1,400 workers for the Fusion output, many of them having no manufacturing experience. Ford has been training about 150 new workers every week since April.

The workers are made to undergo a five-day, hands-on factory simulation course designed to enable them to handle basic tasks like installation of electrical connectors, engine build-up and installation of brake lines and radiator hoses. Workers train at 10 stations during an eight-hour day in the program.

Workers also learn to read operator instruction sheets. In the past, workers just underwent classroom training and then went straight to the assembly line, where they learn more with an experienced colleague in a system called "buddy up." The Flat Rock site is the second Ford plant to use the hands-on factory simulation program.

Ford launched a smaller version of the program in 2012 at its Louisville site for the launch of the 2013 Escape. According to Ford, the hands-on factory simulation program will become a standard practice around the world. Tim Young, Flat Rock plant manager, remarked that the program will make sure that early-build events are “high, high quality." Ford had struggled with the launches of the 2013 Escape and Fusion.

The carmaker experienced some issues for the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, which launch was delayed by around four months by quality glitches. Ford will commence two-shift Fusion production at its Flat Rock site in the third quarter of 2013, with around 3,000 workers building Fusions and Mustangs on the same line. The Fusion is currently being built at Ford’s Hermosillo site in Mexico, which output is not enough to keep up with growing demand for the vehicle.

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