Innovation by Collaboration

QVM Ford Program, A New Way of Doing Business

It is said that innovation is fundamental to succeed in the world of business. And the new technology has been an indispensable tool for this innovation process to happen. But what occurs when industries, companies and business in general do not have the necessary tools (capital, land, labor force or technology) for constant innovation? The answer is evident; businesses are limited and stuck in the process. It has seen that businesses simply stop producing or developing because they lack these essential tools.

Ford shows the importance of this matter. A couple of years ago Ford Company started a program named Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM). This program helps coach builders –originally manufacturers of horse-drawn vehicles, but now of bodies for automobiles – to achieve their full potential. Through QVM, Ford assists builders to accomplish high levels of customer satisfaction from the customer side and also creates product acceptance in society through a quality process of converting vehicles to multiple uses such as school buses, ambulances, utility vehicles and the like.

The program is of mutual benefit to society and environment. It is rigorous, but it has to achieve not only customer satisfaction, but also safety. For this reason, before entering the program builders have to follow a detailed process where the specification of the design is presented. Along with other analysis and requirements, the QVM Engineering Office reviews each prospective builder and then gives authorization to start the manufacture of two trial vehicles for a full inspection process. After passing the inspection, the builder is ready to work in the QVM program. As a requirement, builders have to agree with a mandatory probation period and to the program guidelines which includes annual Ford evaluations on engineering and other quality control process.

While Ford does not produce the finished vehicle, Ford certifies, by its QVM program, guarantees of the good quality of the final product. The program brings to customers the peace of mind they need when buying a specialty vehicle. It can be stated that Ford concentrates specially in the process of design manufacturing and quality control. Consequently, Ford adds value to modifiers' businesses participants.

Environmental benefits of new fuels

Another benefit of the program is the environmental and economic warranty it brings with the engine packages that are offered. Environmentally speaking, CNG (compressed natural gas) and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) are known to be lower carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters. Like the emergency vehicle at the right, such innovations bring lower costs along with environmental benefits. In other words, by putting more of these vehicles in the marketplace, the total GHG emissions will be decreased.  The economic side is the cost of these gases. Gasoline and diesel cost more than natural gas fuels. These qualities have made interest for these type of vehicles increase globally. Ford has accomplished this business innovation by answering customer demands. Ford got the market for CNG and LPG customers and offered satisfaction and quality with the QVM program. Today, the security of driving a high quality truck or modified vehicle is reachable to all customers by offering these qualities to almost all type of trucks or vehicles.

Moreover, Ford shows another innovation characteristic by entering the competitive eCar market. Because of the efficiency hybrid cars offers, customer demand for this product has increased since it entered the market. Knowing that Hybrid vehicles use more than one form of energy to achieve power (generally gasoline powered motor and electric motors) the pollution emitted is less. In addition to this feature, the cost of gasoline for each vehicle is minimal, making more affordable to customers’ pockets. Given these qualities, the need for all type of vehicles to enter the hybrid market is essential. Operating fuels will be reduced and GHG emissions will be lowered as well.

The extension of the program is known as eQVM (“e” as energy). Now, Hydraulic hybrids vehicles can also be modified according to customer needs. The manager of the program Dick Kuppke says

"I never dreamed I would have been working on electric trucks, but I'm very excited about it.  Can't tell you in what year we will do, but you can see it's a tremendous growth area."

The high expectation and vision that Ford has in this type of market demonstrates the commitment of the company in this innovation process.

What is more, the program is accessible to all coach builders. Ford has seen the advantage that its business has, and has implemented this program for others to collaborate and increase their business as well. The program is open to any engineer of limousines, utility trucks, buses, ambulances and professional cars. By being a voluntary program, Ford gives the opportunity to succeed to every builder that fulfill the requirements.

The program has been well accepted among all type of builders. Because being a QVM builder is a means to meet high standards, builders have upgraded their manufacturing process. These modifications are beneficial to the process of modifying other types of cars in general.

These programs are a great advantage for business innovation. Where infrastructure capacity is limited or the cost to innovate is too high, opportunities like the ones Ford offers helps the economy move forward at a good pace. The Ford program increases good jobs in the US by providing an opportunity to collaborate with other businesses to increases innovation and production. As the QVM program has demonstrated, all parties benefit from working together: Ford expands the types of vehicles that they can provide customers and gets new ideas from smaller, nimble companies, while small businesses get the support to compete in a highly competitive industry. The right tools in the right hands creates marvelous things. The Ford QVM project is a model for development of large transportation and other projects with high demand for manufacturing and engineering excellence. Shared capabilities benefit all, raising all boats. This is a win-win situation.