Ford Robotic Plant Laser.automotiveIT

Laser robots inspect the quality of a new Ford Focus built at the company’s Michigan Assembly plant (Photo: Ford)

Ford hopes to boost quality through a major investment in robots that can check for problems using laser technology.

The U.S. based carmaker said it is investing $100 million globally to install laser inspection robots at its plants. They will check for wind noise problems and should help Ford give its cars a higher quality fit and finish.

In a press release, Ron Ketelhut, chief engineer for Ford's body construction engineering, said the robots would give the company "a degree of precision like never before." And he added: "The vision technologies verify the dimensions of interfaces on the vehicle's body in a highly accurate way, to a tenth of a millimeter."

Ford is already using the laser technology for the assembly of the new Ford Focus in Michigan and Saarlouis, Germany, and for the Ford Explorer at its Chicago plant. The robots will de deployed worldwide at later dates.

Ford said the robots help ensure car door panels fit more accurately and reduce wind noise, which is a key quality factor for consumers and a major industry challenge.

The robots' laser and camera systems were developed in collaboration with manufacturing specialist Gonzalez Production Systems. The robotic technology was pioneered by Ford's European operations. It first used the system in Germany.