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Wi-Fi Sync installation boosts Ford's assembly line efficiency

Wi-Fi Sync installation boosts Ford's assembly line efficiency

Posting in Sustainability

By using Wi-Fi installation for its Sync software, Ford has been able to eliminate 90 unique part numbers from its supply chain.

Ford is making the installation of its Sync software easier on its assembly lines courtesy of Wi-Fi.

On Thursday, the company said it has added Wi-Fi provisioning to select assembly lines. The aim: Deliver standardized Sync software installations to vehicles as they roll down an assembly line.

To start, Ford is using Wi-Fi to deliver Sync software to its vehicles equipped with MyFord Touch technology. Ford's next-gen Sync software has a Wi-Fi receiver. The Wi-Fi assembly effort kicks off in Ford's Oakville, Ontario plant, which makes the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.

With an automobile Wi-Fi receiver the assembly line and vehicle can communicate. While this communication is largely untapped as an efficiency tool, Ford thinks it can save some money. In some respects, Ford had no choice, but to innovate with its Sync installation. It was becoming too difficult to scale Sync installations by stocking various modules as Ford rolled the software out globally.

For instance, Wi-Fi provisioning will enable Ford to stack standard Sync modules. The Wi-Fi installation should cut 90 unique part numbers, which have to be updated every time a Sync change is made. In a nutshell, Ford can now stock one Sync module and deliver options---apps, traffic, 20 languages, graphics, fuel and speed measurement settings and color scheme---via Wi-Fi. Previously, option combinations required a separate Sync module. The installation process takes about 8 minutes.

Ford said it has plans to roll out Wi-Fi installation on its assembly lines in its Chicago plant as well as other locations that will support the 2012 Ford Focus launch.

The biggest challenge with installing Wi-Fi in an assembly plant is the tuning since steel beams as well as high voltage cables can interfere with radio signals.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure