Canadian Manufacturing

Ford’s Oakville plant paint shop to get dirt detection upgrade [WATCH]

Dirt particles in paint are difficult to manage with conventional quality control methods. Watch this video showing Ford's ultra-sensitive new technology

DEARBORN, Mich.—Ford Motor Co.’s Edge and Flex crossover utility vehicles will soon sport the shiniest paint job the model line-up has seen as the iconic automaker plans to install it’s latest dirt detection technology at its Oakville Assembly Plant.

Currently installed on Ford’s F-Series truck assembly operations in Louisville, Ky. and Dearborn, Mich., the ultra sensitive system uses high-resolution cameras and reflected light to digitally identify surface imperfections finer than a grain of salt in final vehicle assembly, and to cue operators where to polish and buff out imperfections.

The automaker says the Oakville plant is slated to install the system later this year.

Ford says the dirt detection technology improved paint quality and reduced customer complaints of vehicle surface finish by 82 per cent within one year, as measured by customer warranty data for F-Series models produced at the company’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

How it works
Ford’s dirt detection technology takes microscopic scans of each painted vehicle surface, and then cues final assembly operators to address repairs where necessary. In the past, paint and surface inspections were performed with little more than the human eye…attached to a human, of course.

The 3D imaging system applies varying degrees and angles of light while scoping the paint surface of vehicle bodies to identify dirt in paint and other irregular paint conditions.

High-resolution images—3,150 images are captured in 15 seconds for every vehicle made—are stitched together for a full 3D image that’s digitally compared to a perfect computer model.

Dirt particles in paint are difficult to manage with conventional quality control methods. Minute particles enter a shop floor from multiple sources, making paint quality one of the toughest variables to control.

“This is one of the most exciting integrations of optical science and digital technology in the automotive industry,” said Tom Dougan, project manager, global paint applications at Ford.

Here’s a video of Ford’s dirt detection system in action:

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