DEARBORN - Many past and present Ford employees who were instrumental in the design, development, launch and ongoing maintenance of the Worldwide Engineering Release System (WERS) gathered recently for a reunion celebrating the system’s 25th anniversary at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Dearborn.
WERS is a global computer system that manages, communicates, tracks and maintains part information for all Ford and Lincoln vehicles – everything from the tiniest bolts and fasteners to larger parts like vehicle seats.
“It’s easy to picture all of the parts in WERS,” said Leonard Quagliotto, application development release manager. “Just look at a car and take it all apart piece by piece.”
WERS commonizes engineering information systems and practices and by doing so facilitates communication between Engineering and Manufacturing, enables worldwide business practices and eliminates redundant design efforts between regions. WERS feeds part data from Engineering to Production, Prototype and Service operations around the world.
The system links over 20,000 people worldwide and averages 800,000 transactions each day. It supports parts release for all Ford and Lincoln vehicles from the 1990 model year through present day.
“Typically when you build a new vehicle model you’re using a lot of the parts from a previous model but a whole lot of new parts too,” explained Quagliotto. “WERS is a way for engineers throughout the world to track all the information about a part – what condition it’s used under, when it’s going to go on a vehicle, what model year vehicle it’s going to go on, what part is it replacing, what does the part consist of and so on.”
Quagliotto, who has been involved with WERS since its inception, says that in many ways WERS represents one of the earliest foundations for One Ford.
“WERS was the first system at Ford that enabled people throughout the world to go to one common location to track all of their engineering parts,” he said. “Ford management at the time realized that in order to build a global car some day we couldn’t have a whole bunch of different computer systems talking to each other. So they decided to build one system that could be accessed by folks all over the world.”
Given the trend of ever-shorter lifecycles for anything computer-related, Quagliotto says it’s unlikely there will ever be another Ford computer system with the longevity and staying power of WERS.
“WERS’ 25 year-plus life is a testament to the strong foundation of business and technical principles on which it was built,” he said.
Roger Arvo, infrastructure architect, says the WERS story is one that would make Henry Ford himself proud.
“It’s all about acting on a vision for a more integrated, innovative engineering process and the commitment of both management and hundreds of highly skilled professionals to create something extremely rare – a system that has remained relevant and effective for 25 years,” he said. “The story of WERS is still being written by those continuing to work on it every day.”