• Aug 31st 2010 at 8:32AM
  • 22
In case you thought installing SYNC into Ford vehicles was a ho-hum-whatever affair, that's not the case – Ford puts a lot of thought into it. The Blue Oval's latest assembly line advance is to have SYNC's infotainment software installed into the 2011 Ford Edge via WiFi. Made possible by the the latest version of SYNC with WiFi access, the new process allows Ford to save money on parts and inventory by using a common module among vehicles in different cars and made in different plants. After the Edge, the Lincoln MKX and 2011 Explorer will gain the same systems. Follow the jump for the press release.

[Source: Ford]
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  • Ford is installing Wi-Fi® access points on its assembly lines to wirelessly deliver SYNC® software to new Wi-Fi-enabled MyFord Touch™-equipped vehicles as they are being built
  • On-the-line software downloads allow Ford to use a common SYNC hardware module for every vehicle, reducing complexity, improving quality and saving cost
  • The Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant, which produces the all-new 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, will be first to have the on-the-assembly-line Wi-Fi capability, with Chicago Assembly, home of the new 2011 Ford Explorer, and other global Ford manufacturing sites soon to follow
2011 Ford Edge with MyFord Touch first to receive SYNC software downloads via Wi-Fi access points on the assembly line

DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 26, 2010 – Ford is the first automaker to use Wi-Fi provisioning on the assembly line to wirelessly deliver SYNC software to vehicles equipped with the new MyFord Touch driver connect technology as they are being built.

The new on-the-assembly-line Wi-Fi capability eliminates the need for building, stocking and storing multiple SYNC hardware modules, thus reducing manufacturing complexity and saving cost.

"Using wireless software installation via Wi-Fi, we can stock just one type of SYNC module powering MyFord Touch and loaded with a basic software package," explained Sukhwinder Wadhwa, SYNC global platform manager. "We eliminate around 90 unique part numbers, each of which would have to be updated every time a change is made – this system really boosts quality control."

Earlier in the year, Ford announced that the next-generation SYNC system that powers MyFord Touch would feature a built-in Wi-Fi receiver. Now, Ford is further capitalizing on the limitless possibilities of this in-car wireless connection, making communication between the vehicle and the assembly line a reality.

The Oakville, Ontario, assembly line that produces the all-new 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX will be the first to feature wireless access points for software installation. In turn, the Edge and MKX will become the first vehicles to get their infotainment software installed via Wi-Fi while moving down the line.

A global endeavor, Ford is also targeting Chicago Assembly Plant, which is building the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer, for Wi-Fi installation capabilities. Plant locations throughout the world that will support the 2012 Ford Focus launch will soon follow.

Through July, hundreds of pilot vehicles were successfully moving through the Wi-Fi access point at Oakville. "Employees at the Oakville assembly plant helped us tremendously in getting the Wi-Fi process to work, and work perfectly," said Wadhwa. "Turning an assembly plant – with steel beams everywhere and high-voltage cabling throughout; everything you could imagine that would interfere with a radio signal – into an access point that would achieve 100 percent success was a huge challenge.

"Oakville is our model for what we're doing next in Chicago, then into Europe for the new Ford Focus."

Wireless proposition
Going wireless for software delivery addresses a number of manufacturing complexity and potential quality issues for Ford as more and more features and services are added to SYNC across multiple vehicle lines and continents.

"As we began developing the different levels of MyFord driver connect technology, we grew increasingly concerned with the number of different hardware configurations we were going to have to keep on hand," said Wadhwa.

Where engineers initially proposed unique SYNC hardware modules for each possible vehicle configuration – resulting in more than 90 individual part numbers – Wi-Fi installation allows those different configurations to be stored as software on a computer server and wirelessly installed on a common, basic SYNC hardware module as the vehicles are built.

Through the Wi-Fi connection, SYNC software options totaling as much as 300 megabytes of data can be installed and configured wirelessly, including:
  • The addition of the SYNC app Traffic, Directions & Information in U.S. markets
  • Market-appropriate languages for voice-activated commands and system prompts
  • Option-specific graphics and icons for navigation, system information and instrument panel screens
  • Unique system color schemes for MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch
  • Units of measurement settings for fuel economy, speed and distance

Global implementation
With the dual challenge of implementing a cutting-edge driver connect technology like MyFord Touch and rolling that technology out to a global marketplace, Wi-Fi has been a key to rapid globalization of the SYNC system, added Wadhwa.

"Ford is developing and implementing world-class manufacturing techniques that are just as advanced as the vehicles they're being used to build, and we're scaling these techniques for use around the globe," he said.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ford SYNC allows drivers to bring nearly any mobile phone and some digital media players into their vehicle and operate them using voice commands, the vehicle's steering wheel, or radio controls.This one will be awsome
      Spread Betting
      • 4 Years Ago
      oooooooooooooooooooooohhhhh dangit.

      A wifi-enabled touchscreen-interfaced infotainment system built into the dashboard of the car?

      dear gosh.... someone else desperately needs to get caught up with Ford. They are simply running away with this mess.... all down the highway.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wait till they start using bittorrent on there, that will really speed up the process and less bandwidth.
        • 4 Years Ago
        haha oh actually that would be funny... vehicles downloading bits of data from each other as they travel down the assembly line
      • 4 Years Ago
      On one hand, I like the functionality of the Sync system...as it can do quite a bit and will only become more amazing with time. On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if it will eventually start to detract from what people should be doing in their cars.....concentrating on driving.

      I don't know, maybe that's just my semi-Luddite side talking.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's a good point. If people are going to do it anyway, at least with Sync they might be able to do it a bit safer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There's no significant advantage to this over having a pile of USB keys with the update on them at one point on the assembly line and one is inserted into the car at one point on the assembly line and then removed a few spots down the line when it the download is complete.

      It is good Ford is adding Wi-Fi to Sync. The key is what they will do with it. And, well, they've done good things so far.

      I find it interesting that Ford is bragging that they sell you the same Sync module with different features depending on how much you pay. I agree it makes a ton of sense for Ford's margins, but if customers find out they sometimes think this is a sham. So usually companies don't brag about it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have heard that Audi is considering something similar. In the Audi the car would be fully equipped and depend on what you ordered is what will be activated. I say this because if Ford has a common module, what prevents someone form buying a basic Sync then going online and downloading the fully loaded software.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Those engineers were definitely not software engineers. All software configs should have always been server-centric. Then the config specific to the vehicle being assembled would be downloaded into the SYNC system. Well run businesses do this when setting up PCs for the employees, where HR personnel would utilize a different set of apps than the sales group. It saves time, makes auditing simple, and lowers the cost/need of IT personnel doing the installs.

      Wireless just gave Ford the ability to connect to the server(s) without a physical net connection. Which is a logical move on Ford's part. So kudos for the wireless move.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Whatever their method they were most definitely software engineers. I think it is quite likely that the systems already come preinstalled with a base version of the Sync system and what is being installed is updates to provide the latest improvements. What I am hoping out of all of this is that since these vehicles are already going out with wifi technology it would be great if they could make use of it for updates. The average car is parked within range of the owners home wifi network everyday not to mention free hotspots. What if your Sync enabled vehicle could use that connection to download music, news, navigation updates, etc for free instead of tethering to your phone?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think you are off base, as while you are correct that software configs are easier, it was already pointed out that this opens up the possibility of software malfunction, and hacking. I would have pushed hardware intially too, as it's normally more secure, and easier to test, as it's functionality is limited.
        Software 'smart' devices are where a lot of car CPU functuions are going due to cost considerations, and potential longevity, but that does not make it a good idea if the whole setup can't be secured properly.
        I recently dealt with a 'warranty' issue on one of our fleet vehicles where it looks like a user flashed the PCM module in his F-250 to retune the engine. Unfortunately it looks like the dumbass used the wrong engine build, and tried to reflash a 5.4L V8 with the new 6.2L V8 PCM... needless to say the engine blew, and he tried to cover up the mistake by reflashing the PCM back to the old version. Thankfully the PCM also keeps date information, so we knew that the reflash was not the one from the factory. We are now paying for a new engine, and are minus one employee.
        The internet and wifi make it way too easy for people to screw stuff up that shouldn't be messed with by amateurs. I have modified dozens of cars, (and owned close to 30 myself) and can tell you that messing with factory settings can be a very expensive and painful endeavor if you are not really careful.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This process hacked and your car hijacked in 5, 4, 3..........
        • 4 Years Ago
        That is exactly what I was thinking, someone is going to figure out a way to hack into Sync and cause all sorts of trouble for Ford customers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This was also my first thought. How long till your car gets drive-by hacked and shows kiddie porn/swedish cracktros/hacker shout outs/etc all day?

        The wireless better be activated ONLY at a Ford dealership and turned off otherwise.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sync has totally revolutionized the infotainment industry for vehicles and revitalized the Ford line and bringing them up to more sophisticated levels most luxury automakers can't even match. A shame no one else has such a system.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL at Ant.

        First, yes other car copanies are using the MICROSOFT application in their automobiles. Don't fall for the Ford propaganda.

        And secondly, all Ford and MicroSoft did was put a stupid name on their product. Most car companies offer voice controls, blue tooth, iPod controls.....

        SYNC has to be on of the biggest "marketing" ploys in recent times.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm just waiting for it to happen. It's bound to happen. I mean, this is Microsoft. And Ford. The blue screen of death is coming soon! Muahahaha!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @tomtom: Are you time-travelling comedian coming from 1995? I knew 11yr old kid back then who thought BSOD-jokes were still funny. Is it you, Zbigniew Fazekasz?
        Who else should we expect such weak joke from than you? Maybe from TriShit, Invisible, Gruv...
        • 4 Years Ago
        All it takes to reinstall it is 37 3.5" floppy disks, stop being such a whiner
        • 4 Years Ago
        cool! do you have more jokes from 1997?
        • 4 Years Ago
        If it did happen, would it instead be the Blue Oval of Death?
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