RAYONG, Thailand — Ford’s Vehicle Operations Manufacturing (VOME) team in Thailand continues to Go Further.
Ahead of the start of production of the all-new Ford Focus at the new Ford Thailand Manufacturing plant, the Thailand-based VOME team developed a low-cost spring compression tool to improve the rear suspension sub-assembly process.
Not only did the VOME team bring more efficiency to the assembly line, they also saved Ford more than US$250,000 that a more expensive design would have cost.
“This is yet another great example of the Ford team going further,” said Rob Shandley, APA VOME Senior Enginieer. “It’s also a great example of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa’s low cost mindset and innovative approach to manufacturing.”
Shandley explained that the rear suspension sub-assembly process for the all-new Focus requires that the geometry of the assembly is set up a certain way to get the best quality outcome.
Part of this is to ensure the rear springs are compressed before the suspension joints are secured. The VOME team benchmarked various solutions around the world, but found that in general they didn’t suit the intended build strategy. In addition, they were very large and expensive.
Furthermore, those facilities required extensive machine guarding to protect the operator from the machine automation.
So Shandley and his team developed a manually operated jig that can separately compress the left and right springs as the assembly passes along the conveyor. The jig has a pneumatically-driven ball screw arrangement, with an adjustable stop position to suit the specified requirements.
The result is an overall cycle time equivalent to other plants while walking time has been reduced as the jig is always suspended over the work station.
“This allows the operator to complete the spring compression process at an ergonomic height, fit the C-clamps that hold the compressed assembly easily, and also complete other process in station,” Shandley said.