Ford Motor Co. seeks improved process continuity and greater accountability through “lifetime engineering.”

The brainchild of Richard Parry-Jones, group vice-president-global product development and quality, the strategy is designed to ensure customer satisfaction by using knowledge gathered by engineers during a vehicle's life cycle.

“What we want is a critical mass around any one of our products that understands the history, understands the DNA, the brand, the customer and can build on the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses,” says Mary Ellen Heyde, vehicle line director-lifestyle vehicles. This is accomplished by limiting the movement of personnel.

Product is supported with personnel who have “corporate memory” and “ownership.” The approach, started earlier this year, is spreading to other disciplines.

Lifetime engineering — referred to as “cradle-to-grave” — is applied across brand lines. Lincoln Mercury vehicles director Al Kammerer says Ford's North American car group developed the Lincoln LS, and that currently Lincoln has teams dedicated solely to its vehicles.

In the past, engineering teams would stay together until 90 days after Job One. Now, says Ms. Heyde: “We may have 10% to 25% of the people that will move on. So, as they engineer the future product, they know the history.”