Ford Group Philippines recently acquired and put into use two of the best automobile production machines for quality control, a current model coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and a current model four-wheel non-contact aligner (NCA). After weeks of intensive training, these German and Korea-made machines are already in use at the Ford Sta. Rosa facility.

This joint P68M investment is currently benefiting the Ford Focus, as bulk of Ford's production for both the domestic and export markets are concentrated on this model line. This ensures that the Philippine-built Focus is of the highest quality and performance.

Likewise, the locally assembled model lines of Ford and Mazda are also randomly assessed on the CMM, while all pass through the NCA at the final line.

Body Alignment

The new CMM greatly improves the fitting or alignment of the vehicle's shell. With an accuracy of 40-100 microns, this machine enables the Ford manufacturing team to accurately position sheet metal and trim parts in its exact locations. As a result, customers will experience a reduction in wind noise, appreciate the ease in opening and closing of all movable panels and less likelihood for any leaks during the rainy months.

All this is achieved through the dual probes at the end of flexible arms. These slide vertically and horizontally, lightly skimming the crevices of each vehicle and provide an evaluation of the point of joining from the individual trim parts. This tactile assessment is then projected as three-dimensional images onto computers that provide Ford engineers with necessary visual representations and calibrations.

During its early months, initial samples were drawn from among the Ford Focus production lot, i.e. out of the 45 Focus units that the plant produced, four were randomly checked. The Mazda3 was next on its evaluation line-up and was finally followed by sampling from the 75 units that the plant churned out daily.

Ford Group Philippines is also the only vehicle manufacturer in the Philippine market with the latest technology of the CMM, billed specifically as the Zeiss Dual Column Carmet CNC Horizontal Arm CMM.

Alignment on four wheels

To complement its structural improvement, Ford has also paid attention to its suspension geometry. Impacting steering and handling performance, the new four-wheel Non-Contact Aligner is aimed at delivering a higher level of drive performance and driver confidence.

The NCA assesses each of the wheel's angle variance with the use of lasers and cameras and is corrected automatically by the aligner. The process lasts 2.5 minutes on average per vehicle, with accuracy measured at sigma value 0.01 against the industry standard of 0.05 (i.e. the lesser the value, the better the quality).

Total Customer Satisfaction

Both the coordinate measuring machine and the four-wheel alignment machine improve occupant safety and provide for a better ride. This move helps Ford further differentiate its products from the rest in the market by providing total customer satisfaction. "Ford is committed to continuously raising the standards of quality of its vehicles. These latest assets have in fact made significant improvements on the Ford Focus, and the rest of our vehicles at the Ford Sta. Rosa plant-the kind of quality that we promise our customers in the domestic and ASEAN markets," said Henry Co, Ford Group Philippines president.