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Car and Driver: Ford Creates the Anti-Fitbit Wearable, Cracks Down on Line Workers’ Daily Step Count


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The Pequod of literary legend sailed for three years in search of Moby Dick; Ford’s new “Portable Quality Assurance Device”—which, we’re predicting, will take the acronym PQAD—has a much shorter time horizon. It’s an Android smartphone with a special app designed to streamline assembly-line quality checks, shaving seven seconds per car off the process and saving its workers up to one kilometer of walking per day—take that, Fitbit!


The PQAD works thusly: As cars pass by the quality check person, an Android phone on their wrist calls up relevant quality-check parameters for each car via a specially designed app. It even enables the checkers to record the quality results on the fly—or stop the line from their watch should something have been assembled incorrectly.


Previously, the same task required the quality checkers to physically walk up and down the line to different cars, matching vehicles to a paper checklist. In addition to cutting time and steps, Ford reckons PQAD reduces quality-check errors by seven percent. So far, the Portable Quality Assurance Device is only assuring quality, portably, at Ford’s Valencia, Spain, manufacturing facility. Still, given the Valencia plant’s scale, and the success of PQAD there, Ford is moving to incorporate the app/wearable combo in its other facilities around the world.


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