Ford of Britain's Southampton Plant is offering school pupils hands-on experience of building Transits - thanks to a production line simulator.
The equipment was installed at the site's Ford Partnership Centre, in Wide Lane, with the help of the plant’s apprentices. Now the simulator, donated by automotive training providers ASSA Training and Learning, is set to become a major GCSE educational tool for schools.
John Powell, training manager at Southampton Plant, said: "The simulator comes complete with model parts, rather like a Meccano kit, so pupils work together to build a vehicle. It's portable, but takes some effort to move at over 40 metres long."
Steve Edmonds, community partnership training manager at Solent Skill Quest, which is based at the centre and works closely with local schools, found there was huge interest among teachers. He invited pupils from Southampton’s Woodlands Community School, Harefield, to sample the simulator. Teacher Kevin Baker was so impressed that he wrote a GCSE training programme especially to make use of the equipment.
Kevin said: "I teach GCSE engineering to 14 and 15-year-old students and this simulator enables them to get to know each other's strengths as well as work as a team.
"The mini production line illustrates many of the industrial concepts which are commonplace in today’s automotive industry.
"The pupils learned a great deal, improving their knowledge of health and safety, ergonomics and time and money constraints. Using the Ford simulator enabled me to teach these concepts in a real situation."Published 1 March 2005