Human ‘gremlins’ throw spanner in the works

November 16, 2016

Every day Xabier Garciandia secretly places wrong parts and faulty components on the assembly line at one of our car plants. But rather than working for unscrupulous rivals, Xabier is actually a key part to making sure new vehicles meet rigorous quality standards.

It all came about after we introduced industry-first Vision System technology, which photographs, checks and tracks every single part of each of the 400,000 cars and vans assembled, and 330,000 engines built at Valencia each year.

“Gremlins Tests” are an innovative way of ensuring that new process is working correctly.

“The Vision System is crucial to ensuring every single part of each vehicle is just right,” said Garciandia, technical specialist, at the plant. “The ‘Gremlins Test’ means we can ensure that system is working perfectly. It is a game with a very serious point. The team are really excited when they find one of our parts and all the time we are making them harder to spot.”


We produce more models at the state-of-the-art plant than anywhere else in Europe, including Kuga, Kuga Vignale, Mondeo, Mondeo Vignale, Galaxy, S-MAX and Transit Connect and Tourneo Connect, as well as our 2.0-litre and 2.3-litre Ecoboost engines.

The Vision System captures more than a billion photos every fourteen days, comparable to the number of photos uploaded to Instagram in Europe. This also helps to generate a composite image – consisting 3,150 digital photographs – that highlights any discrepancies to engineers on the spot.

So far, faulty engine parts, wrong steering wheels, and even incorrect dashboards have been sent down the line, with the “Gremlins Test” now extended to all 34 stages of assembly. The system is working so well that we are considering rolling it out worldwide.

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