DEARBORN - Three years ago, Ford began the process of redesigning the way that the company operates within all of its manufacturing facilities around the world.
That work led to the redevelopment of the Ford Production System (FPS) – a standardized, structured system that would engage plant employees and provide a consistent foundation upon which to make continuous improvements.
Once the foundation for the FPS was laid, Ford began the process of implementation – learning and building capability – and by the end of last year all of Ford’s manufacturing facilities were implementing to a level of 74 percent globally.
Now is the time to begin reaping the benefits, according to John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs, who has dubbed 2014 the “Year of Traction.”
“Traction is about the system taking root and us achieving the benefit of everyone in Global Manufacturing engaged working together within the standardized framework that our production system provides,” he said. “This will enable us to realize the benefits in safety, quality and flow that comes from each of our teams around the world working to improve the business in a consistent way.”
One important factor that will be watched very carefully in the coming year is a measure of success called “the velocity of improvement,” according to Adrian Price, director, Global Manufacturing Business Office.
“What we will be looking to see is how fast we are improving. Obviously our goal is to get to best-in-world results and that doesn’t happen by magic. It happens by hard work and engagement from everybody in the organization,” he said. “We have put tools in place through the FPS, and now we have to make sure that they’re delivering the results that we expect. And those results will help improve our performance and therefore help us lower cost, increase quality and throughput and give us a safer place to work.”
Price said he ultimately hopes to see a shift in the mindset at Ford’s manufacturing facilities throughout the world.
“The big thing for us is moving from being reactive to proactive. Instead of waiting for the customer to tell us they didn’t like something, we need to proactively find that issue in the system and stop it from ever impacting the customer,” he said. “We need to perform preventive maintenance on equipment so it doesn’t break down. We need to put robust elements in place around error-proofing for quality and around training people – proactively working with them with deep knowledge to make sure they have the information they need to understand what an issue is and how to react to it. That’s really where the traction is for us.”