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New smartphone app improves Ford vehicle quality checks

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. has implemented an Android smartphone app that has reduced human error by 7 percent and cut vehicle quality checks by 7 seconds at its plant in Valencia, Spain.

The “Portable Quality Assurance Device,” which was proposed by a Ford employee and developed in partnership with software company Visia Solutions S.L, lets line workers check vehicle specifications and approve production steps digitally instead of using a paper system that made them walk a half a mile per day. The work-issued Android smartphones are attached to the workers’ wrists with a Velcro strap.

Ford said it tested the app for about a year and now will likely be implement it at plants around the globe.

“We have varied options and features across our vehicle range and digital innovation in our plants helps to generate lean methods within the manufacturing process,” Linda Cash, vice president, Manufacturing, Ford of Europe, said in a statement. “The ability to simply consult a smartphone screen to check any aspect of a vehicle’s quality and specification helps to guarantee highest levels of product quality, and improves work processes and manufacturing efficiency.”

Ford’s Valencia plant churns out about 400,000 vehicles a year, including the Mondeo sedan, Mondeo Vignale, Kuga SUV, Transit Connect van, Tourneo Connect people-mover, S-MAX multi-activity vehicle and Galaxy seven-seat people-mover.

“The initial feedback from production line workers has been very positive and we are actively looking at other areas in the process where we could deploy digital innovation and further increase quality and efficiency,” said production manager Ramón García, who proposed the app.

Ford isn’t the only automaker to experiment with new technology in plants. General Motors Co. in 2014 said it was exploring the use of Google Glass at its Orion Assembly and Warren Technical Center.

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