Ford Uses Google Earth To Virtually Navigate Assembly Plants

Wed, 12/11/2013 - 12:14pm
Joel Hans, Managing Editor,

Dearborn, Mich. ( — Ford Motor Company has recently announced that it is piloting new software from Siemens that enables it to virtually "swoop in" to any assembly plant and navigate around the floor. The company hopes this new development will help its employees improve global collaboration and share best practices between various assembly lines.

The Siemens IntoSite application, which is part of its Tecnomatix portfolio of cloud-based web applications using Google Earth, now has a 3D version of Ford's assembly plants. Workers on the plant floor are able to add "pins" to the virtual maps, and attach video, documents or images to those pins. When these are established, another Ford employee on the other side of the world could zoom into the assembly plant, click on the pins, and watch a video about how a certain employee moves about their cell, or affixes a certain part to the in-progress vehicle. The aim is that the IntoSite application will help disparate plants standardize their practices using the company's best efforts.

John Fleming, Ford executive vice president of global manufacturing, says, "Under the Ford production system, we are constantly looking for ways to improve standardization around the globe." 

The company's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., is piloting use of the system, which they seem to believe will be "more effective than email" when it comes to translating information from one plant to another. Users there are already adding content into the system, which has simplified what used to be a complex and unstandardized practice.

The company has released the following video detailing its use of the software:

Zvi Feuer, senior vice president, manufacturing engineering software, Siemens PLM software, added: "Ford takes a very innovative approach to manufacturing, so it’s no coincidence that they are the first to leverage IntoSite. Siemens and Ford have been working together for many years to close the knowledge gap between engineering and manufacturing. The IntoSite implementation is the latest step in this effort and is another example of how Siemens’ PLM solutions enable manufactures to make smarter decisions which result in better products."


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