Based on time spent understanding customers’ real "pain points" in daily activities and work environments, Ford created an all-new suite of productivity solutions, according to Ed Pleet, Ford Work Solutions, product and business development manager, Ford Motor Company. "What’s unique about Ford Work Solutions is not only are the features innovative, but we’re teaming with class-leading partners to deliver this," said Pleet. These partners include DeWalt, Garmin, Sprint, Magneti Marelli, and Master Lock.

Features to Get the Job Done

With a 6½-inch, high-resolution, large-button display touch-screen, designed for use with a gloved hand, this multifunctional in-vehicle computing device brings the mobile office to life. The bright screen is automotive-grade, built to withstand extreme temperature ranges. An integrated stylus and wireless keyboard come standard.

In addition to hands-free calling and real-time navigation, a wireless broadband connection allows users access to a home or office PC, to view and even print out documents (with an available Bluetooth printer).

Word processing and spreadsheet applications are included on this two-gigabyte device, designed as a PC-connection point rather than a primary means of storage.

Users can also determine if they’re equipped to accomplish jobs with the Tool Link application, a radio frequency identification (RFID)-based tool tracking system that uses RFID tags to track items. Contents can be tagged for a specific job "playlist," so a quick inventory check displayed on the device’s screen reveals missing equipment before leaving to the job site.

"The key thing we’re trying to deliver with that feature is really ensuring workers have the right tool for the right job at the right time," said Pleet.

Increased Efficiency and Security

Ford offers two additional items available for use with the Ford Work Solutions system. Crew Chief, the fleet-focused Web-based vehicle management system integrated with the vehicle, can be viewed in any area or with any device with Internet connectivity. Capabilities include identification of vehicle location, diagnostic codes, and geofencing. Features can pinpoint the employee nearest a specific job or supply area.

The second add-on addresses the issue of theft. Ford worked with Master Lock to develop a retractable cable lock that bolts to the side of a pickup box. The lock is equipped with an 8-foot, ½-inch-thick steel cable that can be woven through or attached to tools, securing items left in the vehicle without having to worry about theft. Lock keys are coded. If a key is lost, users can go to any hardware store and get a new key as long as they know the code.

"We really feel Ford Work Solutions is taking it to the next level, where not only are we going to lead in traditional areas, we’re going to lead in providing productivity solutions to help our customers in their business and everyday life," said Pleet. Ford Work Solutions is available on F-Series light-duty and Super Duty trucks and E-Series vans.