By on August 26, 2009

To my mind, this is video is some of the better corporate communication to come out of Detroit in a while. It’s the perfect counterpoint to GM’s perception-gap whining, giving ordinary folks a glimpse inside the manufacturing line while highlighting quality control improvements. Only the choice of hosts is bit confusing; sure, Mike Rowe is the Robin Leach of blue collar America, but why invite the comparisons to, say, sheep castration?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

34 Comments on “Ford: Quality Is Dirty Job One...”


  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Perhaps Ford doesn’t need to whine about the “perception gap” as they have actually been working on closing the real quality and reliability gaps.

  • avatar
    geeber

    This is a very good video – it effectively communicates that Ford is working to improve its vehicles, without any whining or premature boasting.

    As for the choice of Mr. Rowe – he is featured in Ford ads, and is pretty effective. He comes across as a no-nonsense, down-to-earth fellow, and in this economic environment, that is a plus.

    His show highlights dirty jobs, but it treats both the job and the people who do it with considerable respect. Given what has happened over the 12-18 months, most people probably have more respect for the sheep castrators than they do for many white-collar positions, especially in the financial and housing sectors.

  • avatar
    kamiller42

    I saw Mike Rowe tighten a bolt. The UAW bosses are probably reporting this as a contract violation to Ford bosses. “He’s taking union jobs away!”

  • avatar
    92golf

    Sorry, spelling nerd – the top of the window says “High tech tools for improved ‘qualtiy\'”.
    Looks like it comes from YouTube like that though.

    That said, this is a great video, very effective.

  • avatar
    Vorenus

    Nice post, and nice video. I agree with what others have said about the *no BS* tone of the video and Mike Rowe as spokesperson. Good stuff.

    Mike Rowe is *the man*.

    I do wonder what else they’re doing with the video though. I mean… at 2 and a half minutes, it’s too long for a TV commercial. Is this a YouTube-only deal?

    Maybe they should have a shortened version and stick ’em on TV. Then again, maybe the message couldn’t be delivered in 60 seconds.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Indeed, that is a good video and I had no idea that they can measure a bolt’s torque. Nice! I wish my Jeep had that as I have a rattle behind my dash.

    Oh, and that link to the lamb castration is also good. I can see what you are saying, as he’s honest about real work which is often at odds with unions, bureaucrats and animal rights wackos. I love the comment about the crab boat captain in 50 foot seas saying how it’s his job to get his guys home rich, not alive, as that is their job. (lol)

    Mike is the man!

  • avatar
    mistercopacetic

    I have to take issue with the current crop of Ford ads on TV with Mike Rowe. I will admit that even though there is a strong anti-Ford/GM/Chrysler bias in my family, I would not hesitate to unconditionally recommend some of Ford’s current offerings. But the tone of the recent Ford ads comes off as a little arrogant. One says repetition can help people understand how great Ford’s cars are, with a salesman apparently repeating himself to a dumb couple in the background. Whatever happened to “the customer is always right?” Instead of repeating the same tired whining about a perception gap, just make the best cars with no excuses and the buyers will come. If customers still express a perception gap, do you really want to call them so dumb you need to repeat how awesome your cars are?

    As for the video above: this is moving in the right direction, showing customers why Ford is building better cars than it did before. But it raises a lot of other questions: why is the electric drill better than what the competition uses, if there is a difference? What do the numbers mean exactly in the green readout screen–is every car that meets a low tolerance accepted, what is the failure rate, what is the exact standard, how does it compare to the competition, etc. If the point of this video is to demonstrate that electric drills are more effective than pneumatic drills in installing instrument panels, that only tells us (if true) that the current Taurus is better than the old Taurus because the instrument panel is more secure (i.e. less likely to rattle after 50k miles or so). Buyers may be more interested in what exactly is the tolerance level allowed to pass (ex: 1 mm for interior panel gaps, whereas competition allows as much as 2-3mm).

    I just watched another couple videos in the series, this one is interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fV57MqZrpQ, describing the process after assembly of driving the car over different road surfaces like cobblestone and brick to isolate any NVH issues. I assume other manufacturers have similar quality control measures. If so, Ford is just now reaching industry standards for NVH testing. But if Ford is leading the way with new testing methods, creating fewer problem cars, maybe the customer should know about that.

    My verdict: Right airport, crash landing.

  • avatar

    Mike Rowe, in addition to hosting Dirty Jobs, does the narration work on other Discovery Channel shows like Deadliest Catch. Ford marketers use him because he’s associated with manly, working with your hands, occupations, perfect for the F-150. Since his fame derives from work on documentary shows, he has more credibility than other celebrities.

    Speaking of marketing, GM missed an opportunity to get some publicity out of Papa Joe Schnatter’s successful search for his original ’71 1/2 Camaro. Schnatter paid $250,000 for the car and an additional $25K finder’s fee to the people who were the prior owners and helped him find it. To celebrate, Papa Joe’s pizza shops are giving away free pizza to Camaro owners. GM could have come up with some kind of promotional tie-in, after all, they just launched the revived Camaro brand. GM’s already done some one off vehicles for Jay Leno, maybe they could have cooked up a modern replica of Schnatter’s car.

    Here GM is handed an example of extraordinary customer loyalty, and they do nothing with it.

  • avatar

    Can they provide the same tools to the people who tighten lugnuts at dealerships and tire shops?

    On Ford quality, it’s looking a bit iffy with the related Flex and MKS. Contrary to what many people think, quality is more a matter of product design and engineering than assembly. And problems involve electrical systems much more often than nuts and bolts.

    Our reliability stats:

    http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

  • avatar
    50merc

    I agree, the video is good corporate communication. (Though whoever did the sound editing should have boosted the spoken words to better hear them over the din of the factory.)

    Not only did it increase my respect for Ford’s manufacturing process, it increased my respect for the people who put vehicles together.

    I think the switch to electric tools was made so torque level could be automatically monitored and controlled.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    As a 2 1/2 minute infomercial its works. Unlike the smoke, mirrors and whining about perception gaps from their domestic competition Ford is just building better cars.

    I enjoyed the “Gravel Truck” Video

    They drive a Taurus and ES350 behind a gravel truck and then illuminate resulting the carnage with a blacklight to show the durability of their new paint.

  • avatar
    Durwood

    I think the switch to electric tools was made so torque level could be automatically monitored and controlled.

    Yes, i got the impression that is what he was alluding to. And i disagree about right airport, crash landing, and that Ford comes off as arrogant in their ads. I think they are showing confidence, and also pride in their product and also their work force. Very effective ads i think and makes you feel good about watching them….and knowing Americans can build as good (or better) a car as anyone in the world.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    While no car ads stand out to me as particualrly good or entertaining at this time, Ford’s are probably the best of the bunch. +1 on all the prior comments as to why they chose Mike Rowe,a nd a good choice it was. I don’t know what he is like in real life, but he certainly projects a good down to earth personability that people like.

  • avatar
    daro31

    I was a supervisor at Ford in the late 70’s when we firt tried to to torque monitoring on critical bolt torques. The pneumatic hoses where about 2 lbs per foot of length and the readout went to a teletype machine printout buried in the stock racks. Poor guy that has to heave around those special torque guns. They didn’t last long as the air supply lines always seem to get extra holes and the wrenches dissapeared. Nice to say that they have overcome the early technology challenges and come up with a workable monitoring system. This type of torque or electrical resistance checking and station control has been done at every supplier I have worked at for the last 15 years as a mandatory quality control from all the car companies. Nice to see that the Ford is actually trying to do something it has always made its suppliers do.

  • avatar
    daro31

    I am surprised no one has pointed out that torquing that bolt is such a dirty job that you get 30 years and out and $60,000 a year to do it.

  • avatar
    GeeDashOff

    Bolting things together at the right torque is important, but if what you’re bolting together is low quality crap designed by bean counters its all for nothing.
    The reliability (and quality) of a product starts with management and what they’re willing to spend to get it.
    The Japanese seem to have the right mindset regarding this, I still think it remains to be seen if Ford can do the same. But better quality controls in production is a good start.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I agree with the comment that quality is also part of design and engineering, not just great manufacturing quality controls. This may explain why German cars are gorgeously well finished but often lacking in electronics quality.

    A lot of the practices in the video are probably normal in auto manufacturing. Most consumers never think about how a car is built, so having someone show off the fancy electric torque wrench connected to a computer makes Ford look cutting edge to Joe Schmoe, even if Toyota’s $10,000 optically guided automated torque wrench is better.

    mistercopacetic :
    Sometimes too much information is bad. I think Ford made a good move in avoiding numbers comparisons to the competition. The spot will come off as more authentic, since they’re going by their own merits, not by talking down the competition. Ever notice most GM commercials rip on the competition, while other ads tend to try to make you feel sentimental or good?

  • avatar
    mikey

    Interesting…..Watching the P.G.A a couple of weeks ago,every comercial featured the voice Richard Thomas
    expounding the vitrues of Mercedes,over and over again.

    I can’t wait to see Mr Thomas in his John Boy Walton coverall’s bolting a Mercedes I.P. together

  • avatar
    rnc

    “even if Toyota’s $10,000 optically guided automated torque wrench is better.”

    I believe this is where the UAW comes into play.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    @ mistercopacetic :

    DC nut runners are better because they hold a tighter tolerance. A normal pnuematic wrench holds about 15% while a DC wrench will hold 10%. This improves joint quality and, yes, allows a smaller bolt to be specified. Also, Ford has used the coblestone, sinewave, and otherwise varied road surface road as a quality check for a long time.

    The problem with using DC tools and the other expensive machinery in place at Ford assembly plants is that they severly limit flexibility, both in design and in the ability to manufacture multiple platforms on one line.

    I remember seeing a picture of a Toyota plant with a Landcruiser and a Camry going down the same line and having my mind blown. Toyota uses the exact opposite approach. They count on the operators to perform the job correctly rather than using designed in poka yokes and automation. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t work as well when operators know they will never be fired and don’t feel connected to the business.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @guyincognito…So assemblers at Toyota have built in tourqe meters,in thier hands and arms?

    Amazing!

  • avatar
    Hippo

    They always were pretty good at making movies.

  • avatar
    Durwood

    “They always were pretty good at making movies.”

    Hahahaha…you mean those muppet looking monsters? lol

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    @mistercopacetic:
    Whatever happened to “the customer is always right?”

    It’s always been a load of horsepuckey. The customer is often wrong and frequently ignorant.

  • avatar
    Monty

    You know what’s interesting? Go back (waaaaaaay back Mr. Peabody) and read threads regarding Ford from two or three years ago. The TTAC B&B seem to have had quite a different perspective on Ford compared to now.

    Maybe Ford has really changed it’s stripes. I guess we’ll see in another five years or so if the 04’s and 05’s retain their initial quality over the ten year period.

    Based on my now almost 4 year old Focus the outlook is positive. Still no warranty issues, no egregious squeeks or rattles, and the doors and hatchback are as tight as when we first got it.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    You know what’s interesting? Go back (waaaaaaay back Mr. Peabody) and read threads regarding Ford from two or three years ago. The TTAC B&B seem to have had quite a different perspective on Ford compared to now.

    That’s because they’ve done a good job of changing perceptions and providing some excitement, starting with the Mustang redesign. Hiring a “new” guy from outside the auto industry didn’t hurt either. You’re right, time will tell if it is more than just a change in perception.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    Perception is all that matters. Elsewise the Germans would be good and screwed.

  • avatar
    Idesign2

    In addition to Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe started a website as a PR campaign for hard work and skilled labor. The site recently launched a “Trade Resource Center” which is an informative and interactive resource center for people in, or looking to explore the trades.

    In Mike’s words … “Dirty Jobs has reminded people of a time when hard work was not seen as a thing to avoid – when craftsmanship was lauded, and Master Tradesmen were seen as role models …”

    Check it out and see what else is happening at …
    http://www.mikeroweworks.com/mikes-office/

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Can this system tell the difference between a properly totqued bolt and a crossed threaded one that locks up half way in?

  • avatar
    dwford

    I saw Mike Rowe tighten a bolt. The UAW bosses are probably reporting this as a contract violation to Ford bosses. “He’s taking union jobs away!”

    I am sure he is in the actor’s guild, so it’s ok.

  • avatar
    mistercopacetic

    A couple points:
    –Perhaps I am being too critical. I guess the perception of arrogance in television advertisements is rather subjective. I’ve been looking for the specific ad online but can’t find it anywhere, maybe it was pulled. I’ve seen it at least once or twice in the past few days, so it is a fairly recent ad. I still didn’t care for the tone of the ad, but it was a rather subtle point. I don’t know if it was or will be effective, just my two cents.

    –As for the pneumatic vs. DC drill video: who exactly is the audience for this web series? Gearheads like us who are parsing minute details about car manufacturing, or the mass consumer who just wants to know he isn’t buying a costly lemon? I’m no engineer, but from the comments it sounds like there are benefits and drawbacks to the DC drill method.

    Areitu: You and others point out that design and engineering, and other factors such as management, can be more indicative of product quality than just looking at manufacturing quality control alone. I did not know that but it does make sense. Just by watching the videos, it isn’t really clear why Ford chose one method over another, or more importantly, why this makes Ford’s final product superior to the competition, and therefore more worthy of my hard-earned cash.

    guyincognito: Thanks for your post. Maybe your explanation is too nuanced for a 2 minute web video, but I still wonder: what was the point of the video at all if you’re not going to make a strong point? Without some drive, some purpose, it’s just a bunch of words that won’t really make me more likely to buy the product–or feel anything about it. If the point was “we make quality cars,” it seems poorly communicated to me.

    Daniel J. Stern: I still think, though, that it just seems less desperate and therefore more attractive, for a car company to win me over with a better product and a funny/insightful/attention-grabbing ad, rather than making me feel stupid for not knowing enough about the product. If the customer is wrong, a good salesman can still rip him off and make him feel good about it. One-upping the competition is necessary to survive in a cut-throat marketplace, but simply attacking alone seems counter-productive. I.e., your product should be the standard by which others are measured, not the other way around. On this count, in my opinion Ford has failed to convince me that they are the new standard-bearers of quality.

  • avatar
    daro31

    mfgreen40 :

    Can this system tell the difference between a properly totqued bolt and a crossed threaded one that locks up half way in?

    They can, they know how many degrees or turns if you like, the bolt has to make before reaching correct torque.

  • avatar
    lw

    Ford is well positioned for when GM and Chrysler need the next bailouts.

    By then the US currency may be in serious trouble and anyone touching the precious little government money available will be decimated in the marketplace.

    I don’t own any Ford stock, but I’m impressed with the focus (no pun intended) that they’ve maintained during the last 2 years of hell.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    The spot is too long and boring. It shows us that Ford uses automation and computerized torque control for fastening bolts. I’m underwhelmed. Do they try to make a point that this Chicago plant for the Taurus is better than their competitors? The guy tightens a single bolt and it’s supposed to be a dirty job? Maybe there are other segments that I haven’t seen.

    I think it’s great that Ford is seen as the domestic with a fighting chance, but I have always viewed their entire line-up in a similar way that I look at refrigerators at Sears. They have always had that god-awful appliance feel to their vehicles, both inside and out. Guess I need to go drive some of their recent wundercars and see how bad they are kicking Honda’s ass. Grin on.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States