Unbounded continual improvement
Continual improvement has been one of the key tenets of the automotive industry for the last decade. The sector has always sustained that it is an endless goal because there is always room to improve a little more, an approach it has adopted in pursuit of another of the industry’s major principles: zero defects. This never-ending quest for peerless quality, and to achieve it at the first attempt, is brought closer within reach by the growing application of new information and communication technologies. Big data, rigorous traceability, real-time monitoring of processes down to the last detail and collaborative robotics, to name just a few factors, are now becoming a reality in OEMs’ and major suppliers’ factories. Manufacturing is taking on a different feel, as can be seen at plants like the Ford engine facility in Almussafes. There, the US automaker is making significant strides in fields like 3D printing. In addition to the notable advances in production, Ford — exemplifying the way the industry is evolving — is also raising its requirements as regards sustainability and the use of resources like water. In this field, as in many others, the automotive sector should set the pace.