I see big benefits behind this Virtual Plant Visit tool: one being a reduction in company travel expenses. The fact that one can drill down to individual assembly stations to see development of new components being manufactured is an awesome feature of the tool. Combining this tool with Video Conferencing will allow quick response to resolving manufacturing concerns between suppliers and OEMs within hours as opposed to days. Very nice article!
Yes, MrDon, they can look at seven different plants and see how each does a particular task. they can take the best iteration and deploy it across all plants. They can do this function-by-function to reach optimal efficiency.
mrdon, you have a good point. With a high fidelity model of a plant a lot of this travel can be elimanted. I know an engineering manager whose company has plants all over the world. He has to go to customer locations, but he also finds that he is traveling to company locations to review how they are doing and how they do things. It takes a lot to even get a hold of the designs and drawings from these plants. This will be one challenge to many companies that have operations in multiple countries. They often do not share.
Another item that isn't taken into consideration of New Product Development cost is travel expenses. This tool would definitely save dollars by reducing travel expenses. Also, delay in work hours will be minimized based on reducing travel hours as well. To much wasted work hours occur because of waiting in airports and air fly time. Again, this virtual plant tool would keep projects on task because of reduction in travel time.
I agree the essential purpose of this software is optimization. They are optimizing through transport costs,positive comparison,better communicaton, name it. Ford has certainly made a very smart production decision.
Sounds like a great idea to ensure that there is complete uniformity in the assembly of Ford cars across all the company's plants. But there must be additional measures to ensure that the production or assembly process runs throughout without any halts even at times when there is downtime (in that unlikely event) in the connection between multiple plants.
Though it will probably take a while to implement the new systems across all plants, and train staff on how to use the system properly, the long-term benefits will be visible soon. Aside from the savings to be made on the travelling costs, there will also be some significant savings to be made on the litigation expenses that usually come with faulty or defective parts in assembled vehicles.
Litigation costs is a savings I hadn't considered, AnandY. Ultimatley, the greatest savings will likely come from spreading best practices across multiple plants. Increased uptime and the overall optimization of production will deliver savings over and over.
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