Ford to accelerate cloud-based software development

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Ford is investing US$182.2m in Pivotal, a cloud-based software platform company based in San Francisco, California, USA, to further enhance its software development capabilities.

The OEM recently teamed up with Pivotal to deliver its FordPass consumer experience platform. Building on this existing relationship, Ford plans to accelerate the incorporation of Pivotal’s advanced software development methodologies and technology across the IT, product development, and research and advanced engineering teams.

Ford will put Pivotal’s next-generation cloud platform and analytics capabilities to use on the company’s new mobility projects – such as its on-demand dynamic shuttle pilot program.

In addition, Ford and Pivotal plan to open new software labs in strategic locations in both the USA and Europe that will be staffed with software architects, engineers and user experience experts – all using Pivotal’s advanced software development methodology.

Meanwhile, the company has developed the world’s first fully mobile aeroacoustic wind tunnel featuring an innovative, patent-pending test system that allows for sources of unwanted wind noise in early production vehicles to be identified faster and solutions developed sooner. The system has been installed at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan.

Ford wind noise core supervisor Bill Gulker said, “Our new mobile wind tunnel saves our engineers time and increases productivity. It’s a fine example of the innovation mindset we’re trying to incorporate into everything we do.”

Ford’s new mobile wind tunnel costs a fraction of what a full-sized lab costs; as testing requires only a steady stream of highway-speed wind, many of the large and sensitive instruments of a full aero lab aren’t required. But high-tech, in-cabin sensors like the Aachen head and Noise Vision can still be used.

With an on-site wind noise facility, Ford factories can pull more sample vehicles directly from the line and test them with no delay – eliminating the time and complexity of shipping vehicles back and forth across the country. Issues requiring assembly process refinement can be detected and resolved earlier, since everybody involved is on hand.

Similar in concept to a full-scale wind tunnel laboratory, the heart of the mobile facility is built inside two 53ft shipping containers. Each includes aeroacoustic vanes and internal ducting to provide smooth, controlled airflow at the nozzle end of the machine, while two 16-bladed, 6ft-diameter ducted fans – each powered by a 250hp electric motor – deliver a maximum blast of 80mph wind. A series of doors around the containers ensures the sections remain secure during transport or storage.

The machine consists of the two main containers fastened together side-by-side on flat, level tarmac. In between, two roll-up doors are lifted, while doors on the front and back ends are opened to create the air intake and outlet nozzle. A third, 40ft container – housing a small office, power distribution and controls – is placed nearby, and data and power cabling are connected between the containers.

The entire operation can be broken down within a day, shipped to any Ford North American assembly facility via truck, and then reassembled at the new site, ready for testing within hours.

Further stats

Maximum system power: 500hp

Facility capability: 24-hour-a-day operation by two workers

Enormous power distribution cables weighing 10 lb/ft, each plug weighs 40 lb; in total, each 100ft cable weighs approximately 1,080 lb

Machine noise: 75dB at a distance of 6ft from the test area – roughly equivalent to a telephone dial tone

May 12, 2016

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About Author

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive, marine and entertainment divisions. Currently editor of Automotive Testing Technology International, Crash Test Technology International and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as co-chairman of the annual Electric & Hybrid Marine Awards and can be found sniffing out stories throughout the halls of several of UKI's industry-leading expo events.

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