The Journey to Digital: Ford's Progress toward an Intelligent and Completely Connected Manufacturing System

The Ford Motor Company has been building cars on a massive scale for 116 years. Gary Johnson, Ford's Chief Manufacturing and Labor Affairs Officer, describes how the company evaluates new manufacturing technologies—some of them still in the conceptual stage—and brings them "into the now" so that they can add value on production lines.
Gary Johnson
Ford Motor Company
We have a lot of [new technologies coming into] our organization now. But we're not going to 3D print F150 door panels every 46 seconds. We're not there yet: the cost isn't there, the technology's not fast enough. But how do you bring some of that technology into the now? How do you bring that into our factory of tomorrow—what we're trying to do in the next 20 days, 60 days, 100 days, a year, three years, five years out?

Gary Johnson is the Chief Manufacturing and Labor Affairs Officer of the Ford Motor Company. In this role, Johnson is responsible for overseeing the global operations of every Ford assembly, stamping and powertrain plant around the world. In addition, he leads the company’s worldwide engineering support for stamping, vehicle and powertrain manufacturing, as well as Ford’s Material Planning & Logistics, Ford Production System, Manufacturing Business Office and Labor Affairs organizations.

Previously, Johnson served as vice president of North America Manufacturing, a role he held since January 1, 2016 and was responsible for Ford’s North America manufacturing footprint – the company’s largest in the world with more than 30 manufacturing plants.

Prior to leading Ford’s manufacturing in North America, Johnson served as vice president of Manufacturing Operations for Asia Pacific since January 2010. In that position, he oversaw a host of new vehicle and engine launches as well as the construction of ten new plants in the region – seven in China, two in India and one in Thailand – the company’s largest expansion in 50 years.

Johnson has worked in manufacturing and quality for more than 30 years in increasing levels of responsibility at various locations, and is a leader in lean manufacturing. Among his assignments in North America, he served as director of manufacturing for engine operations and director of vehicle operations for quality.

Born in 1964, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.


Read the Digital Factory Report

The future of manufacturing is digital. We explore the technologies that are transforming fabrication, from advanced 3D printing to AI-assisted design, and get to know the leaders who are bringing them to the factory floor.

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