900 Robots, 8,000 Staff, Ostrich Feathers and a Serious Eye for Detail are Vital in Ford’s Hi-Tech Valencia Factory

ostrich feathers

It may seem like a very odd combination, but Ostrich feathers are vital in Ford’s hi-tech factory in Spain’s south eastern coastal city of Valencia; which happens to be the car giant’s biggest European plant. Ford claim the site is the “most advanced, productive and flexible facilities.”

As you would expect, in any large industrial site, dust can be a real issue. Ostrich feathers are claimed to be the best at removing the nuisance, and so Ford use giant rollers to clear the empty metal shells of their vehicles before heading to the paint shop. Any left over particles can cause static electricity, which as I’m sure we’ll all agree, is a (shocking) pain. Visitors also have to go through an ‘air shower’, which just like the Ostrich feathers removes the dust that is not allowed near the cars.

Cameras pick up any imperfection, even if barely noticeable with the human eye.

Cameras pick up any imperfection, even if barely noticeable with the human eye.

Once the shell is sporting a 3 layers of sparkling new paint, hi-resolution camera scan the surface for any imperfections or blemishes, even if they can hardly be made out with the naked eye. These computers scan through 3150 images in 15 seconds. Any imperfections are marked up immediately with a red warning, and a computer goes back to correct them. The use of these computers have cut painting time by 20%, as well as CO2 emissions.

After a car has passed through the paintshop and is heading towards the factory exit doors, a hearing test is carried out on a choice of cars. A tiny microphone is placed inside the vehicle, and a sound pulsed around the shell. Any loose bolt or fitting will be picked up by the microphone immediately, even if to quiet to hear with the human ear.

With the aid of 900 robots and 8000, 400,000 vehicles will be delivered from the plant in Valencia, 40% up from 2014. “That’s a lot of cars for a single factory,” when it’s running at full capacity it will probably be the second biggest Ford plant behind its one in China, ” says John Leech, head of automotive, at consultants KPMG.


Images – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34454071 – 20/10/15