This might go some way to explaining for uplift in Ford build quality over the last decade or so.
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Monday 18th September 2017 14:48 GMT Anonymous Coward
I think that improvements in build quality are more likely due to increased use of automation/robots than VR.
Although well outside your 'last decade or so', along with my fellow engineering students, in 1973 I visited Ford's Dagenham Plant and one of the process stages that stuck in my mind was the finishing of the join between the roof panel and the rear pillar of the Cortina Mk3; the roof panel and rear pillar had a spot-welded overlap joint and this was covered over with a metal filler (which actually looked like solder) and then manually ground smooth with angle-grinders to produce the final shape or form. The grinding was done purely by eye and each worker on the line had their own aesthetic sense of what looked right with the result that, once you were aware of it, you could see clear variations from car to car. Less common were variations between different sides of the same vehicle and I speculated that these might have occurred as a result of a change of shift.
Tuesday 19th September 2017 02:43 GMT David 132
Re: Build Quality
Upvoted, because I find that fascinating and eminently believable.
In the "believe it if you will" category, two related anecdotes come to mind.
The first is something I read about Ford's takeover of Land Rover in 2000. As they toured the Discovery production line, one of the QA practices that horrified the Ford men was the process for testing the completed vehicles for water ingress. A tech would walk round the car with a high-pressure hose; if water was found inside, the car would be sent back up the line to have that particular leak remedied, then shipped to the customer. The obvious issue of "what happens if there's more than one leak" had apparently never occurred to them.
And the second is that old probably-an-urban legend about the Mercedes engineers at a conference in the 70s, describing their testing process for door seals. "We lock a cat in the car and leave it there overnight," they said, "and if it's dead by the morning, we know the seals are good & airtight."
"We have something similar," said the men from British Leyland, "We lock a cat in the car, and if it's not escaped by the morning we know the seals are good enough..."
Monday 18th September 2017 12:09 GMT Robert Carnegie
I feel unsure whether the designers started out or went on sitting in a wooden model of a car, or viewing a virtual car through headsets, or, both.
Red Dwarf's "Back to Reality" episode comes to mind; so does the episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", but that is not polite to mention and I do so only so that you don't.
Monday 18th September 2017 12:09 GMT Arctic fox
Monday 18th September 2017 12:21 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 18th September 2017 16:17 GMT John Smith 19
"You explain, I don't get it. You show me, I understand" Simple idea. 2-3 decades to achieve
And that's a hell of an achievement. To keep at it. To never quit.
As for Ford's spending didn't the go through 2 USG bailouts in the last 3 decades?
BTW Notice how much of that was "back end" data synchronization, reducing the amount of "massaging" to get the data sources compatible etc.
TBH I always suspected that for something as big as a car you'd need some kind of physical mockup. I think we are are just starting to get to the point where it can be fully virtual.
Monday 18th September 2017 17:09 GMT aussie-alan
Caterpillar was using VR earlier than this
Caterpillar was designing heavy equipment in the VR CAVE environment in 1995, at NCSA (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). They used an SGI system with multiple graphic pipelines and projectors, with a head mounted helmet. Ford became an NCSA member some time after that, I think it was '97 or '98 (I was in the meeting when they joined, but don't remember the date). Using VR for vehicle design is certainly not 100% original research at Ford, or unique to them.
My former employer had sponsored a graduate student to do some visualization work int he CAVE environment too. I was managing our relationship with NCSA, lot's of interesting stuff there.
Monday 18th September 2017 18:53 GMT handleoclast
You've changed my mind
For a long time I thought VR was totally pointless. I now know that is not so.
So my opinion now is that VR is mostly pointless. There are valid use cases, like this one, but most of us will never have a real need for it (outside of games). Most of the attempts to sell it to the general public as a must-have are bollocks. But this was impressive.