New Super Duty follows quality tradition
Employees who developed and assemble the new 2008 Ford F-Series Super Duty are confident the latest iteration of ’America’s Work Truck’ will continue to build on the quality levels of the current model, which already are among the best in Super Duty history.
Since early 2003, the number of repairs-per-thousand at three-months-in-service for Super Duty has improved 55 percent and the number of things-gone-wrong has improved 19 percent, according to Ford’s internal data.
Pete Reyes, 2008 Super Duty chief engineer, says one of the quality strategies to help continue that trend was to focus on customer wants.
"Features such as brakes, chassis and steering already are highly competitive — probably best in class — with the current model, so the team concentrated on improving the interior and adding more features," said Reyes. "Those actions should help boost quality because of the appeal effect. The interior is gorgeous."
Added attention also was given to the new 6.4-liter Power Stroke® Diesel engine, which traditionally is the engine of choice by 75 percent of Super Duty customers. The engine was put through the equivalent of more than 10-million miles of dynamometer and vehicle testing. A fleet of Super Duty trucks with the current 6.0-liter diesel engine were instrumented to collect real-world data to give engineers an even better understanding of how customers used their trucks.
The information was used to develop additional tests for the new diesel engine to help improve its durability and performance.
"The process we followed gives us high confidence that the new diesel engine will be very reliable, quiet and provide exceptional capability and performance in a balanced package," said Dan Davidson, Ford powertrain engineering supervisor.
Reyes said that involving technical specialists from Ford, Navistar and Ford of Europe also benefited the new Power Stroke engine, as did utilizing employees from Ford Supplier Quality Assurance to oversee and assist with critical systems.
"We were involved as far down as Tier 3 and Tier 4 suppliers, in some cases. Fuel rails, for example, were one of the critical systems. It’s a high-speed line and a complicated rail, so we took extraordinary measures very early to ensure a quality process," Reyes said.
Another key was deployment of Computer-Aided Engineering tools early in the development of Super Duty. In certain situations where outside firms were identified as having more advanced technology, Ford outsourced the job to ensure even better analysis.
In keeping with its "Built Ford Tough" tradition, Super Duty prototypes logged 10 million miles of testing in all types of conditions, including nearly 3 million miles of real-world customer durability testing in some of the most extreme conditions possible.
"These grueling tests prove out the structure of the truck, including the suspension, powertrain and body," said John Wagner, Ford North American Durability manager. "We also know how we stack up against our competition. We test them and have a pile of their broken parts to prove it."
The diligent development work paid off. By the time Super Duty began the normal launch phase at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP), Reyes says the program was far enough ahead of schedule that the team fine-tuned certain production processes. Items such as fender, door and glass fits, cab quietness and sheet metal finish received even closer scrutiny.
"Anything you can do to improve wind noise, fit and finish and craftsmanship results in a better experience for the customer," explained Reyes. "Todd Bryant, the plant manager at Kentucky Truck, led the effort. He has an incredible passion for getting plant controllables right."
Last December, as KTP celebrated production of the new truck, the Texas Auto Writers Association selected the F-250 Super Duty 4x4 Crew Cab as the "Truck of Texas." Soon, customers will be weighing in on the new 2008 Super Duty as dealers build stocks of the new truck. Reyes can’t wait.
"They are going to be amazed by the quietness, the smoothness of ride, the interior craftsmanship, and they are gonna be proud of its presence," he said. "It is one of those vehicles that you want to stand next to and say, ’Yeah, that’s mine. I own it.’ "