Ford was the first car maker to pioneer computer simulation technology in its assembly procedures fifteen years ago. Ford is now introducing measures that allow its engineers to collaborate on virtual build events and provide interactive 3D vehicle analysis.
As each vehicle produced typically includes thousands of components, the computer simulations at Ford’s virtual factory will allow the build to be tested before the company invests in the resources proper.
“We have already started work on our virtual factory project, so that we won’t have to go to the real assembly line to conduct tests or research possible plant upgrades,” says simulations engineer at Ford of Spain, José Terrades.
“Virtual factories will enable Ford to preview and optimise the assembly of future models at any of our plants, anywhere in the world. 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.”
Ford’s Spanish plant, based in Valencia, is the brand’s leader in virtual environments and technology. For instance, specialist camera technology is used to scan and digitise its real-world manufacturing facilities to create ultra-realistic 3D virtual assembly environments, complemented by projectors, motion-sensing glasses and more.
“The final assembly process simulations we use today allow us to do much more than simply plan our build sequences,” comments Nick Newman, implementation manager at Ford of Germany. “We can piece together complete cars in a virtual environment and assess the construction down to the finest detail, and we plan to implement this even more widely in the future.”
The Ford Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) facility in Cologne has interactive 3D environments to help engineers plan for future vehicle production.
“CAVE brings emotion into the development process,” says Joerg Querengaesser, driving environment and virtual reality supervisor at Ford of Germany. “We no longer have to view vehicles only through their technical dimensions. Now we can take a seat inside and experience the virtual vehicle.”
It’s not the first time Ford has used new technology in its vehicles. The new Ford Focus uses ‘chocolate bar’ technology based on an Aero bar to make the car lighter than ever.
A brand new Ford can be bought at Perrys Ford dealerships.