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Ford Analytics, Data Science Efforts Net 2013 INFORMS Prize

Sections: Chassis, Telematics

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2012 Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner Press Photo

(Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company.)

Ford has won the 2013 INFORMS Prize in recognition of its use of analytics and data science to improve overall operations and performance…and to determine whether you want pop-up glass on your SUV liftgate, for that matter.

According to the press release from Ford, the award recognizes Ford’s “long-running, company-wide effort to use data science and predictive analytics to improve overall operations and performance.”

In most cases, this is big-picture stuff, such as building cars more efficiently with higher quality or optimizing the supply chain for each factory and dealership. However, the release also outlined how Ford uses analytics and data science to develop cars with the features buyers want:

In recent years Ford’s analytics initiatives have begun to incorporate big data and apply them to developing new vehicles.

“Social media and the vast amount of online conversation is helping us get a faster and more specific data set to help us make product decisions. We now use text-mining algorithms to formulate a more complete picture of what consumers want that is not available using traditional market research,” said Michael Cavaretta, Ford technical leader for predictive analytics and data mining.

While developing the all-new 2013 Ford Escape, the vehicle engineering team made tens of thousands of decisions such as determining the liftgate configuration. Extensive analysis of customer satisfaction data was used to decide whether to retain the flip-glass system from the previous-generation Escape, adopt a power liftgate, or both.

“The picture that emerged was a four-to-one preference for power liftgates that could open and close with the touch of a button,” added Cavaretta. “The result was a design that provided improved customer satisfaction while reducing manufacturing complexity and cost.”

Ford received the INFORMS Prize Monday, April 8. Previous winners of the prize include airlines, freight and parcel carriers, pharmaceutical companies, and even a government entity.

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  • Brett

    But I love my two section tailgate on my 2010 Escape… Carrying ladders and moulding is a breeze!

  • Lyndon Johnson

    That’s exactly what I thought when I read the Ford presser, Brett. I think I’d actually prefer the hatch glass be openable for those kinds of situations. Makes for a more utilitarian sport utility vehicle.