DEARBORN - If you think of Ford Motor Company as a vehicle, then the engine that drives manufacturing is the Ford Production System or FPS.
FPS defines the way that Ford operates within all of its manufacturing facilities throughout the world.
“FPS is our blueprint for today and for the future,” said John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. “It’s about bringing processes together. It’s about learning from each other. And it’s about having operating systems developed from best practices from around the world which are truly the best way that we know how to build vehicles.”
While FPS has been solidly in place since the mid-’90s, Ford decided recently that the system needed to be approached in a different way.
“We recognized that if we’re really going to leverage the opportunity that One Ford provides us, then we have to be standard in all of our plants in every region of the world,” said Adrian Price, director, FPS. “We need to do things the same way, and we need to have common, consistent standards. And in that way we can leverage the knowledge, capability and improvement opportunities that come from all of our plants to help make the system stronger.”
Price says standardization is absolutely crucial if FPS is to achieve its global vision of delivering products that customers view as best in the world.
“Having a standardized approach is very important because it provides a baseline on which to build and improve. Without that, we know we won’t be successful,” he said. “And although we have operated in different ways around the world in the past, our teams recognize the benefit of having a structured standard that’s integrated together and works as a system.”
In the past, says Price, if someone at a plant came up with a great idea that improved operations that idea wouldn’t necessarily apply or provide benefit to other plants.
“In the future, we believe that if we’re working in a standard way we can capture those good improvement ideas through our global governance process and councils that we’re putting in place around the world, feed it back into the system and make the system stronger and more robust,” he said.
With 85 assembly, stamping and powertrain plants worldwide, creating global standards for manufactur ing is not an easy task.
“It’s a journey,” said Price. “We’ve been doing a lot of work over the past year actually detailing the standards that people are going to follow and communicating them with our manufacturing leadership around the world. This year, we’re starting to move into the implementation of those standards.”
In addition to establishing consistent standards for people and processes, the Manufacturing team is working to standardize the manufacturing equipment used at Ford plants throughout the world.
“Our Manufacturing Engineering organization has been focused on that mission for quite a long time. It’s an opportunity to align the physical equipment with the operating practices and procedures and the structure of the organization,” said Price. “We’re in the process of building many new plants in different parts of the world and having that standardization provides us with a roadmap to set up those facilities so that they can launch at the highest levels of safety and quality and provide immediate benefit back to the company.”
Ultimately, it is the customer who benefits.
“Following a consistent standard and continuously striving each day to improve the system will make the end product better,” said Price. “Being more proficient as an organization also will enhance our cost performance and improve the bottom line for our customers.”
FPS and the importance of SQDCPME
Ask anyone who works in manufacturing at Ford what “SQDCPME” stands for and you will undoubtedly hear the words recited without hesitation: Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost, People, Maintenance and Environment.
That’s because SQDCPME is the mantra of Ford Manufacturing. It represents the seven operating systems that form the foundation of FPS.
“When we measure our performance within manufacturing, we measure it around those seven elements,” said Price. “So what we’ve been working to do is take each one of those elements and develop standardized operating practices that help support driving those results.”
Those standardized operating practices Price refers to are called “key unifying processes” and they help keep FPS teams throughout the world on the same page. They were designed to guide and support the way Ford’s manufacturing business runs every day.
For example, one of the key unifying processes is Time and Data Management.
“That defines the cadence by which everything happens in our plants,” explained Price. “It is a structured approach to effectively organize how time is spent and data is used. There is a defined calendar day by day and week by week that contains the key meetings and tasks that are required for each action to make sure they happen in a structured and standardized way.”
Price says having that cadence and those standards drives stability in the system.
“If everyone understands what they’re supposed to do, when they’re supposed to do it and how it should be done, then any issues we have will be deviations from that standard and visible to everyone,” he said. “That provides us with a continuous opportunity to improve the system and make it more robust and stable.”
Other key unifying processes are Policy Deployment, Standardized Work, Visual Management, Process Confirmation and Continuous Improvement Tools.
“Those are the key processes that help provide the framework and structure for what we do,” said Price. “The ‘Aligned and Capable Organization’ underpins them all. This is the structure of the organization, with teams being the heart of the work that is done in our manufacturing facilities – people with clear roles and responsibilities following standardized work processes, highlighting opportunities and making improvements.”