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 DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 860 employee suggestions to improve the product or the assembly process were incorporated into the 1994 Ford Mustang.
 Over a year ago, a team of 23 hourly and five salaried employees from the Dearborn Assembly Plant moved to the New Model Programs Development Center in Allen Park, Mich., and began brainstorming the manufacturing processes needed to assemble the new Mustang. The employees, called product specialists, represented a cross-section of plant departments.
 By the time the Mustang was ready for production, these and other plant employees had submitted 1,240 suggestions on improving the car's components or assembly processes, with more than 70 percent of those suggestions adopted.
 "We feel this level of employee involvement, so early in the engineering process, is unprecedented at Ford Motor Company," said Carl Fuhr, production superintendent, Dearborn Assembly Plant, and a member of the team. "We had plant employees working directly with product engineers, who heard a multitude of ideas on better ways to assemble the Mustang -- from the people who actually build the car.
 "It was a productive and eye-opening experience."
 Suggestions from the team led to changes in such things as the design of fasteners used to assemble the Mustang, to the brake system to prevent damage during assembly, and to the steering system to make assembly easier. Team members also worked with outside suppliers to improve the quality of components slated for the car.
 All of the changes put into place are geared to improving quality, and to making assembly of the new Mustang more efficient.
 Before the Dearborn Assembly team began working on finding ways to build a better Mustang, they went through extensive training in the areas of interpersonal communications, team problem-solving, and computer science.
 In June, the team returned to the Dearborn Assembly Plant and became trainers. Team members went back to their original areas of the plant and explained the new Mustang components to fellow employees, and taught them the right way to assemble them.
 But the most extensive training for Dearborn Assembly Plant's 2,200 employees was yet to come. In the largest training program of its type in Ford (NYSE: F) history, the entire Dearborn Assembly workforce gathered at downtown Detroit's Cobo Center in late September for three full days of training.
 Subjects included the Modern Operating Concept to be used to run the Dearborn Assembly Plant, teamwork, quality, safety, problem-solving and decision-making. It marked the first time a Ford assembly plant's entire workforce had gone off-site for such extensive training.
 Employees got one final chance to provide ideas on ways to improve the car after they built 200 pre-production Mustangs. Many plant employees were able to take a car home for a test drive with family or friends. An extensive evaluation sheet let the employee judge the car's quality and suggest improvements.
 Plant employees and Ford product development engineers accumulated a total of 700,000 miles of testing even before the first regular production Mustang rolled off the assembly line.
 "The Dearborn Assembly Plant is made up of 2,200 very special people," said Plant Manager Lou Callaway. "It is because of their hard work and ideas that the 1994 Ford Mustang will be a very special car."
 -0- 10/4/93
 /CONTACT: John Spelich of Ford, 313-322-9600/

CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: PDT

KE -- DE017 -- 8276 10/04/93 10:35 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 4, 1993

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