Ford vehicles are known for their quality and reliability, and that level of excellence is ensured by the precision and skill maintained throughout the entire production process. For example, more than 700 robots – with laser eyes and suction-cup hands – are involved in the production of the Ford Escape at the Louisville, Kentucky, plant, to assist Ford employees in maintaining the highest standards of quality.
With the precision of laser-guided and camera-enabled technology, the robots included on the production line at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant boost the quality of every new Ford Escape while also saving energy and reducing human physical strain. These machines are programmed to catch any deviation from specifications, like gaps between door panels, the windshield or the vehicle body.
“The ability of the machines to register any difference in each vehicle on the line improves our quality by providing a custom-like build,” stated Thomas Burns, an engineer who works with the robotic technology for the Escape.
Robotic arms and other automated machines help to both reduce human exertion levels and improve accuracy. “Some of the robots work in concert with our line workers to build the Escape more efficiently,” said Marty Smets, an ergonomics engineer. “We also have a variety of semiautonomous robots, which do tasks that aren’t safe for humans to do repetitively.”
Robots at the Louisville plant are responsible for placing the instrument panel, fenders, glass and paint on Ford Escape models. Door panels fit more tightly to reduce wind noise, increasing the quality of every Escape that comes off the line. In addition, robotic arms apply the adhesive for the windshield to provide consistent application; the glass is put in place mechanically with suction cups for a perfect fit every time.
Robots are also used in the paint shop to apply paint and sealer inside the body and the outside of the vehicle, helping reduce energy costs with a more efficient paint application process. Having robots working in the paint application zones instead of humans also reduces the need for airflow and climate control, saving energy and lowering carbon emissions.
The use of robots in Ford’s Louisville plant ensures precision in the production of the Ford Escape and benefits Ford employees by reducing physical stress on the job, proving that Ford is not only dedicated to delivering a reliable product, but also to maintaining a safe and enjoyable work environment at the same time.