How Ford Pro Accelerated Time to Market by 30%

Ford Pro™ delivers productivity solutions for business fleets of all sizes. From improving uptime to lowering operating costs, Ford Pro’s connected services and electric vehicles help you get the job done. MS-RT are a design-led automotive engineering company creating bespoke Ford vehicles that stand out on the road.

Using CoLab since
Use Case
Customer Collaboration

The Challenge

Building a great commercial vehicle means striking the right balance between technology, productivity, and cost. In order to deliver the best product to their commercial fleet customers, Ford Pro partners with a network of converters. These converters are a key part of Ford Pro’s reach and competitiveness, so ensuring Ford is the partner of choice for their converters is a critical priority.

Partners like MS-RT convert Ford brand vehicles into bespoke high performance upfits. They source specialized parts from third party vendors and work with Ford Pro to integrate them into the vehicle design.

“We’re co-developing a new solution for future Ford products with MS-RT currently,” explains Milan Shah, Director at Ford Pro Special Vehicles UK. “Typically Ford engineers work directly with the technical teams in our converter partnerships – the more effective this collaboration is the better the product for the customer.”

In a recent project, MS-RT worked with Ford Pro, Ford manufacturing, and a third party supplier of custom wheels. With four different engineering teams weighing in on the design, finding a way to stay on the same page was essential.

James Kerr, Design and Engineering Director at MS-RT, explains: “When it comes to sharing data and being able to transfer accurate files between the four different parties, it’s really important for us to be able to make sure we’re all working on the same piece of CAD, so that there’s no ambiguity when it comes to what we’re discussing.”

Meanwhile, Ford is constantly improving the core vehicle design, and communicating those changes to the converters. According to MSRT, “As Ford Pro continually makes improvements to core design, changes must be communicated to us as fast as possible.”

Now, with CoLab, both of those processes just got a lot easier.

The Solution

Before, Ford Pro manually responded to requests from converters to share CAD files. “We’d have to do a meeting or screenshots. Take local measurements of anything they are looking for. It can be very difficult to answer questions quickly.” explains Andrew Walden, Ford Pro Special Vehicles Senior Project Engineer.

Now, they use CoLab to share CAD with their partners on demand. Both parties can also exchange design feedback right from an internet browser.

“CoLab digitizes all of that. It creates that design environment on a single online platform."

Because there’s no need for downloads, IP remains safe inside a secure environment. Plus, it will all be integrated back into Ford’s existing Product Lifecycle Management system.

CoLab’s communication tools allow converters like MS-RT to provide design feedback and make it easy to communicate changes visually, eliminating confusion. According to Shah, this provides “a clear focus on the design changes that are happening – so less chance of issues and errors creeping into that final product.”

CoLab allows this cross-organization team to incorporate all key stakeholders in the design process directly with the converter - including Ford Pro engineers, overseas manufacturing teams and even subject matter experts across the Ford network. “It feels integrated, like one unit working together, as opposed to separate hubs who are out of the picture.” shares Walden.

“It feels integrated, like one unit working together, as opposed to separate hubs who are out of the picture.”

The Impact

Ford Pro is focused on productivity. Initially, they rolled out CoLab with a few converter partners. Right away, the productivity impact was clear. Projects completed using CoLab were finished 30% faster, resulting in shorter lead times. That means commercial fleet operators getting high quality converted vehicles faster.

“Now the converters can see the vehicle sooner, so they can get Ford products into the market quicker and help us be more competitive as a company,” says Walden.

“It’s a massive increase in speed. Any time of the day, across time zones, they can access CoLab and have their reviews. CoLab mirrors Ford Pro’s mantra for our customers of “Always On”, by keeping the design teams continually moving forward”.

“It’s a massive increase in speed.”

This new way of working with Converters is all part of Ford Pro’s strategy to be the Donor Vehicle of Choice. “It’s a part of Ford Pro’s way of working” shares Walden, “We want to support our partners from Day 1 and get them to market as soon as possible. This way, we can work with our converters to solve any issues, to update them with any changes we’re making to our vehicles so that their conversion can be as dynamic and adaptable as possible.” 

And the converter network too feels these improvements. “It makes it so much easier to start up a project” shares Marco Ruigrok – Improvement Engineer at Snoeks, a leading converter partner for light commercial vehicles, “being able to see the parts, take some measurements, it saves a lot of time”.

According to Shah, after seeing productivity improvement right away, Ford Pro is moving quickly to expand the use of CoLab to their entire converter network:

“As we head into 2023, we'll be rolling-out this collaborative design tool to our entire 200-strong convertor network here in Europe to accelerate design iterations, drive more innovative solutions, and reduce errors!”

“It’s a part of Ford Pro’s way of working. We want to support our partners from Day 1 and get them to market as soon as possible.”

Better products start with better design conversations.

  • Foster more meaningful design conversations by removing collaboration speedbumps
  • Keep your product team and your customers informed
  • Standardize your review process and track everything automatically
Get a live demo of a design review in CoLab