Google Earth Connects Ford's Virtual Assembly

June 30, 2014
One of the biggest issues confronting global manufacturers like Ford Motor Co. is the difficulty encountered when trying to share best practices across sites, or foster communication between widely dispersed manufacturing centers.

To help address this issue, Allison Stephens, technical leader for Ford Motor Co. ergonomics, approached Marty Smets, a Ford ergonomics engineer, with the idea of using Google Earth to solve the problem.

Stephens’ idea led Ford to work with Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software business unit on the concept of providing virtual navigation within Ford’s assembly plants to help the company improve global collaboration and better share best practices.

The resulting software, known as IntoSite, is a cloud-based web application developed using the Google Earth infrastructure. IntoSite is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application, with the software and the associated data hosted on the cloud and accessible via a web browser.

According to Siemens, IntoSite holds 2D and 3D versions of Ford’s assembly plants and allows users to navigate virtually through the plants—down to the workstations—to obtain a better understanding of global processes.

To read more about how Ford uses this system, visit

>> Click here to read Automation World's complete coverage, Virtual Assembly, Real Results

About the Author

James R. Koelsch, contributing writer | Contributing Editor

Since Jim Koelsch graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, he has spent more than 35 years reporting on various kinds of manufacturing technology. His publishing experience includes stints as a staff editor on Production Engineering (later called Automation) at Penton Publishing and as editor of Manufacturing Engineering at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. After moving to freelance writing in 1997, Jim has contributed to many other media sites, foremost among them has been Automation World, which has been benefiting from his insights since 2004.

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