Ford Steps Up Quality Training for New Shift

Workers at Dearborn ramp up for F-150 production

In preparation for production of Ford Motor Co.'s 2009 F-150 truck, about 800 new workers at the automaker's Dearborn Truck Plant are undergoing intensive quality training, the company said Feb. 9.

The new third-shift crew, comprising employees transferred in from a variety of plants throughout southeast Michigan, are scheduled to begin production on the 2009 trucks on Feb. 16. The workers have been taking a crash course on quality processes and procedures, according to Donald Pijor, new models launch manager.

Workers new to the Dearborn plant spent the first two days of training focused on the Ford Production System and lean manufacturing principles, Pijor said. After being paired with a team leader, workers with new positions in the plant began on-the-job training where leaders evaluated their performance daily and assisted them with any challenges.

"We have an intensive operator training program," Pijor said. "This is a full production crew, and we have a plan for every person. It is a joint effort with the UAW where we all work together to succeed."

In the second week of training, the workers are brought together in a "blended shift," which allows them to work independently at their new positions, while still having the expertise of more experienced workers nearby.

"This essentially will be a dry run," Pijor said. "So if someone is having a problem with one aspect of the job, there is still time for him or her to get with the team leader responsible for their job certification and work on it. It's just one more way to assure quality."

The number of new F-150 buyers is up from the previous quarter. Purchases by buyers who switched from other brands are up 15 percentage points in the fourth quarter versus the third quarter, according to Ford. Customer loyalty has risen 3 percentage points over the same time period.

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