MyFord Touch Rabbit Kits play an important part in production line quality control. Since November 2012, members of the SYNC Architecture and Enterprise Engineering Team, led by IT Enterprise Engineering Supervisor Darren Shelcusky, have responded to an increased demand for the test units where MyFord Touch is a component on the production line.
Rabbit Kits are used to simulate how the MyFord Touch modules will work by testing the software and infrastructure capabilities of wireless provisioning (automated systems) that load software on to the modules as they enter the production line. The kits contain MyFord Touch screens and modules, along with cables and other accessories used in the plants to test the Wi-Fi provisioning system that programs the SYNC modules.
When Enterprise Architect Ed Esker built the earliest version of the MyFord Touch Rabbit Test Kit in 2009, it was thought that two or three kits would meet the needs of the manufacturing plants. The expectation was that a manufacturing site would return the test unit to the team in Dearborn once they completed their quality control analysis. As it turned out, once a site received a Rabbit Kit, the plants found it cost prohibitive to send it back and many of those returned were damaged in the shipping process.
With the globalization of MyFord Touch, the need for Rabbit Kits grew. SYNC Architecture Systems Engineers Cameron Smyth, Matthew Cross along with Jake Yonan took on the task of creating more kits by applying non-traditional skills (woodworking, electrical wiring, surface soldering, modification of circuit boards) to build kits that evolved and improved with each iteration. Early on they realized that to get the job done they would need to draw upon the resources of a larger cross-functional global team that included Product Development, Manufacturing, Parts, Purchasing, Customs, Shipping and other business functions.
Smyth was at first surprised and then appreciative of the amount of Ford resources involved in building and shipping the kits to the plants. When they were short on parts for the kits, a team member would make a run to the local Radio Shack or Lowes outlet. When the application began running over cache and errors had to be addressed, they reached out to the teams in India and China who in turn contacted Microsoft for resolution. The folks on Ford’s Customs team helped them understand what they needed to do to get the kits to countries with different standards and custom requirements.
“I was most impressed by amount of collaboration necessary within teams and at site locations and with how helpful everyone is and how committed they are to the ONE Ford Plan on a global scale,” Smyth said.
Yonan, an IT FCG working with the SYNC team, agreed with Smyth’s observation, “We act as a team in all aspects of this project – each one doing what needs to be done – across all functions.”
“We were impressed with the outpour of the request for the kits. A lot of people in the plants are aware and appreciative of these kits. We have committed to building 20 kits, and so far have delivered 17. It is great to do something that you can see and touch and know directly impacts the customer,” said Cross.
When asked how the name Rabbit Kits came to be associated with the test units, Smyth explained that in Ford Speak rabbit is a term used for prebuilt test vehicles and test equipment. The MyFord Touch test units, which are housed in custom-built wooden boxes (12” wide, 15” long, 9” tall) that somewhat resemble a rabbit hutch, came to be known as Rabbit Kits.
“When the first three kits were shipped, they were named Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail (from Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit) and were referenced in that way on the instruction manual that was included with the kits,” he added.
“This project is a great example of how the IT SYNC team partners with the company to help deliver quality vehicles. Wireless provisioning is now a core process at all of our manufacturing facilities world-wide, and the Rabbit Kits are key enablers to verify in-plant provisioning setups. I’ve been blessed to work with a team of high-performing professionals whose DNA is collaboration, and who utilize all of their talents, beyond their core IT skills, for the success of company,” said Shelcusky.
Thanks to the efforts of a far reaching cross function team, the Rabbit Kits demonstrate their value every day on the Ford production line, ensuring quality, increasing productivity and going further to increase customer satisfaction.