HSSMI has a long-standing relationship with Ford Motor Company. Both used digital tools to support the extremely rapid launch of manufacturing medical ventilators during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was proved that the digital tools used for process planning, operator training and product launch could significantly accelerate the time to launch, reduce risks and reduce cost. Ford wanted to use this experience to develop a digital strategy and tools for their future powertrain manufacturing programmes. HSSMI supported Ford in defining a digital manufacturing workstream, which would form part of Ford’s electric drive units (EDU) programme. The goal has been to achieve a flawless product launch by using digital tools to anticipate and minimise risks with regards to timing and cost overrun.
Harnessing Digital Data for Optimised Production
HSSMI has already been working with Ford, as well as several other partners, on the E:PriME project, the goal of which is to establish a new electric vehicle manufacturing facility at Ford’s site in Dunton. A complimentary project to E:PriME is 5GEM, which is currently exploring how digital tools can be leveraged to harness the data generated throughout the manufacturing process to optimise production.
The Ford Digital Support project enabled the learnings from these projects to be implemented into Ford’s business process.
Working Through Turbulent Pandemic Times
The key purpose of this work was to reduce the overall time and de-risk the already compressed timescales. It was also important to ensure effective communication and knowledge exchange internally at Ford, as well as with HSSMI experts. This was particularly vital due to Covid-19 restrictions and the aim to reduce the required budget.
Building Up a Digital Repository
Two HSSMI experts joined the Ford team on a temporary basis to support their Digital Manufacturing team. A digital repository was created, which included defined methods and tools that could be used during the EDU programme. The depository was populated with reusable assets and scan data assets with the aim to create a single source of truth for all digital assets. In addition, the HSSMI experts together with Ford developed and validated the digital tool methods and workflows, as well as created training and security documentation.
Implementing Virtual Commissioning for Information Transparency
HSSMI supported the validation and documentation of the vendor onboarding process. This included the definition of virtual commissioning processes, the development of additional requirements for suppliers for virtual commissioning, and the creation of supplier and team training programmes.
The virtual commissioning requirements document has since become part of Ford’s initial enquiry specification to its vendors. This has enabled the company to gather the information necessary to virtually commission specif ic machines on the new programme which will be key to reducing the installation and commissioning time.
Upskilling and Boosting Collaboration Through Digital Tools
HSSMI supported Ford to develop 3D factory EDU lines using Siemens tools. The tools enabled company-wide collaboration, integrated the workflows, and reduced duplication of data.
During the UK Ventilator Challenge, HSSMI supported operator training at Ford through the use of 3D PDF manuals. This helped decrease the time necessary for employees to become confident and competent in working with new machines and operations. Operators were trained earlier on in the launch plan, so as to avoid delays to production. The process, methods, and reusable assets could now be rolled out to the wider organisation and used in this new EDU programme.
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