COLUMBIA — An inspection tool developed at the University of South Carolina to detect flaws in car parts and paint jobs on the factory floor was tested at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant where it prevented more than 200 defects and saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of production errors.
Managers at the automaker said they wanted the technology in all of their plants across the country, according to John Ward of USC’s Office of Economic Engagement, who helped developed the tool.
Now, in addition to Ford, the school and its partners are working with major car makers from Toyota and Volvo to General Motors and Volkswagen.
“I think this has the potential to be the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” said Chad Hardaway, deputy director of the school’s economic engagement office.
The work is among new projects that have increased the amount of money USC is generating from its economic engagement efforts four-fold.
While cameras have been used in visual inspections on auto manufacturing lines for some time, Ward, who used to work for IBM, said he wanted something more simple and effective than the $75,000 cameras that were the industry norm.