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: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Ford's rise no accident



SobeSVT
07-06-2007, 08:07 AM
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Ford's rise no accident
Innovations aimed at improving embattled automaker's reputation

Thursday, July 05, 2007
By Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Ford's rise to the top of the heap in J.D. Powers' Initial Quality Survey is the result of a number of innovative programs at the plant and at dealerships that are designed to create defect-free vehicles and improve the company's reputation.

Ford won five model classifications, more than any other automaker in the survey, and beat out vaunted automaker Toyota in a number of categories. The Mercury Milan ranked first in the midsize family car group, besting even the Honda Accord. Lincoln MKZ won the entry premium car category, and Ford's popular Mustang was the highest rated mid-size sports car for the second straight year.

Ford officials say it's hard to pinpoint just when the company began to turn the corner on quality. But they say that it's likely that the design, production and launch of the Ford Five Hundred and the Mercury Montego, two full-size sedans that recently have been transformed into the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, were a major breakthrough for the company.

"When we launched the Five Hundred and the Montego, there was a great deal more attention to detail and making sure that we had high-quality products right out of the gate," said Mike Hardie, global quality data and process manager at Ford. "That's what started our turnaround, I think. Our designers were getting better and in the first year in service, those vehicles were recommended by Consumer Reports," a rare event in that magazine's history.

Building on that experience gave Ford a head start on getting its next important set of models off to a problem-free start. Those included the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ, all of which have been praised for their quality.

Ford isn't afraid to delay introductions of products if it thinks it can do better. That's what happened with the Lincoln MKX and the Ford Edge.

"It wasn't any one item on the cars themselves that resulted in holding things up," said Alan Hall, communications manager, Ford SUV & crossovers, Lincoln and Mercury brands. "It was more a matter of very close investigation of the cars coming off the line, and going back and tweaking things more."

The company's employees, both managers and union members, are working as a team to make sure the quality of products stays high, Mr. Hardie said.

"There is a program called the Quality Leadership Initiative, which is a joint program of the UAW and the management teams at Ford. In it, we teach UAW people about quality and to make sure they understand that a high-quality product is the right thing," Mr. Hardie added.

for more CLICK HERE (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07186/799175-97.stm).

wingsnut
07-06-2007, 08:51 AM
From article: "Ford officials say it's hard to pinpoint just when the company began to turn the corner on quality. But they say that it's likely that the design, production and launch of the Ford Five Hundred and the Mercury Montego, two full-size sedans that recently have been transformed into the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, were a major breakthrough for the company."


As a Ford employee, I recall a huge emphasis on employee training (called FTEP) in the late 90's that continues today, some mandatory, with courses like 6-sigma, GPDS, etc. There is a total of 22 courses if I recall. They cover many facets of design, engineering, and manufacturing in an effort to expose the basics needed to all employees for best delivering a quality product. It seems to have worked. I know I became more valuable after improving my core knowledge.