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Ford Says It Will Always Need People To Assemble Vehicles, Not Just Robots

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In recent years, we’ve seen robots and computers take over a variety of tasks once reserved exclusively for humans. That includes the equipment used to assemble vehicles, as more and more robots are used these days to do everything from install components to performing paint work. This has led many to fear that one day, there will be no people present in assembly plants at all. But that doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Ford, at the very least.

“I think we’ll always need the human touch, with humans getting in the vehicle and doing certain things,” Gary Johnson, Ford’s chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer, told Ford Authority executive editor, Alex Luft, in a recent interview. “We obviously want to improve the safety aspects of the assembly process and improve quality, but we’re always going to need people.”

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Ford’s assembly process is a critical part of its history, of course. Henry Ford installed the very first assembly line used for the mass production of automobiles way back in 1913. That single innovation reduced the amount of time it took the automaker to assemble vehicles from over 12 hours down to just one hour and 33 minutes. It also drastically cut Ford’s production costs, which in turn allowed it to drop the price of the Model T.

As a result of those lower production costs, Ford also famously began paying his assembly line workers an astounding (at the time) $5 a day in 1914, but he was always looking for ways to improve efficiency. That led Ford to begin building machines that could stamp parts much more quickly than humans could.

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Since then, automakers continue to work on improving production efficiency, and that has led to the use of many machines and robots in assembly plants. But at least for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t look like Ford’s plants will be fully automated and completely devoid of assembly workers.

We’ll have more on Ford’s production processes soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for 24/7 Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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2 Comments

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  1. Here are my 2 cents.
    Robots do repeatable tasks very well. But, in manufacturing, there are always defects bound to occur. Not every wire is routed correctly, not every sensor has been calibrated correctly by the supplier. Anomalies in terms of build quality do happen, and a quality control team will always be required to catch these problems.
    I agree that 95% of cars built by robots will be just fine, but one needs to think of the 5% that would have problems. Because 5% is nearly 5000 F150’s per month, and that is a lot of warranty if there are issues with these vehicles.

  2. i bought anew lincoln MKZ in 2018 and one year later upgraded to a new 2019 lincoln Continental reserve.i love both models and the Lincoln brand! However, i was stunned at the amount of gap inequalities i encountered mostly on the cars exterior doors,hoods,trunks,and especially trim and labels! I confirmed this after viewing several dozen other similar models at several other dealership lots.Putting my OCD aside,l will grant you some gaps were not as obvious as others, yet my dealership could do little toeven out some of the lines.While nothing is 100% perfect, and my Continental is my pride and joy,i just thought that manned and automated and lazer alligned automobiles,along with good quality control,on such a premium vehicle,would let me rate it at least an A ,instead of B+. Still sad to see the end of a great American automobile!

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