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Ford develops virtual assembly line

Ford develops virtual assembly line

Ford has announced the development of a new virtual assembly line which the motoring giant says will help to make its manufacturing processes more efficient and cost-effective, with the benefits ultimately passed on to customers.

The virtual factory will simulate the full assembly line production process and enable the company to improve quality in real world manufacturing facilities through creating and analysing computer simulations of vehicle production procedures, said Jose Terrades, simulations engineer at Ford of Spain.

He explained that Ford has already started work on its virtual factory project, so there will be no need to go to the real assembly line to conduct tests or research possible plant upgrades.

"Virtual factories will enable Ford to preview and optimise the assembly of future models at any of our plants, anywhere in the world," he explained.

"With the advanced simulations and virtual environments we already have at our disposal, we believe this is something Ford can achieve in the very near future.”

Normally, thousands of components are assembled to manufacture a new car, but computer simulation of the assembly process enables the vehicle manufacturing process to be tested before investing in the resources required for a real-world production line.

Ford uses sophisticated camera technology to scan and digitise its real-world manufacturing facilities to create realistic 3D virtual assembly environments, with the company’s Valencia plant taking the lead in developing virtual factory environments, which could enable remote evaluations to be conducted from around the globe.

The manufacturer's ergonomics experts in Cologne, Germany, use the computer simulations to scrutinise the fitment process for even the smallest components, and to determine what is required to make the task as straightforward as possible for the assembly-line operator.

Joerg Querengaesser, driving environment and virtual reality supervisor at Ford of Germany, said it brings "emotion" into the development process.

"We no longer have to view vehicles only through their technical dimensions. Now we can take a seat inside and experience the virtual vehicle," he said.

Posted by Craig SalterADNFCR-3205-ID-801420988-ADNFCR