In our Reality Check segment this week we look at how Ford is applying motion capture technology and virtual reality to refine their manufacturing process.
Outfitting their employees with immersive graphic headsets and motion-capture body suits, Ford creates virtual environments which simulate the assembly of upcoming models years in advance of Job 1 such as the new F-150 pickups.
The data collected is used to design tooling for the assembly line which not only makes the job easier and safer for workers, but also affects design of vehicle components and parts to streamline assembly.
3D printing is used as a tool here such as in the study of the 2015 F-150 engine and transmission mating process which at one point was a matter of concern for engineers.
They simulated the process in the virtual world, running through the steps with a real person, a 3D printed mockup, and the digital realm seen in the headset. This enabled them to solve key process and design issues years ahead of actual assembly.
The process is used for studying the build process of all new Ford vehicles to solve both production challenges through design as well as make the moves and actions safer and less stressful on the bodies of line workers.
Most importantly, Ford says this program has resulted in a reduction of employee injury rates by as much as 70 percent. Not a bad thing at all.