“This project has grown from design to a finished vehicle in 12 months”, said Paul Baynes, marketing and sales manager, Special Vehicle Solutions, Ford of Europe.
Advanced digital connectivity supports efficient restocking and vehicle maintenance, while the lightweight design helps reduce emissions and operating costs associated with using heavier vehicles. This digital connectivity offers an asset management solution, enabling paramedics and ambulance preparation teams to monitor the onboard equipment and stock levels – from boxes of plasters and gloves, to stretchers and defibrillators – ensuring equipment is not missing when the ambulance is deployed from the hospital or at the scene of any incident. Digital asset tracking also supports faster restocking to shorten turnaround time, helping to improve ambulance availability.
Equipment and stock levels can be monitored through Ford’s Ambulance Pro Cloud software, developed in partnership with CSS Europe, and is transferable to other non-Ford ambulance fleets, where users are notified of missing equipment when logged in. This software has been designed with vehicle uptime in mind, saving precious time for paramedics out on the road and ensuring compliance standards are met.
A feature of the ambulance interior is the cabin technology layout. Aftermarket screens and monitors, usually fitted to gas-lift frames and often obscuring other dashboard controls on vehicles currently in service, have instead been incorporated within the lightweight ambulance’s eight-inch, dashboard-mounted touch screen. In collaboration with EDAG Engineering Group, integration hardware and software enables ambulance routing and dispatch information to be displayed directly onto the same interior screen, which controls cabin climate and incorporates the automatic rear view camera.
This increases space and legroom in the cabin, aiding comfort for crews who may be sat behind the wheel for up to 10 hours a day. Ford’s new SYNC 4 system, introduced early next year in new Transit models, gains a new 12-inch touch screen to further enhance the user experience.
Close collaboration with the Ford Pro Special Vehicles team has delivered further weight reduction through a “mix and match” approach to existing Transit parts versatility – including a thinner, lightweight windscreen (optional on some Transit models), alloy wheels in place of steel and optimised fuel reservoir and fluid tank sizes. The ambulance utilises either a compact powerlift or conventional ramp setup.
Extensive use of composite materials in place of existing industry-standard ply designs contributes significantly towards weight reduction, plus weight-optimised, bespoke integration of internal features – such as lockers built into the structure of the vehicle – reduces weight further.
Use of Ford’s rapid prototyping workshops has also enabled individual components to be tested in parallel for the fastest-possible development and of the highest quality. Further testing of the vehicle is underway currently across Ford’s European facilities, including the Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium, the Merkenich technical centre in Germany, and the Ford Britain Dunton Campus in Essex, home to Ford’s European Commercial Vehicles business line.
The ambulance’s configuration is also compatible with the new all-electric E-Transit. The first diesel-powered ambulances are available to order now and will arrive with customers from early next year.
Integral to Ford Pro, Ford’s new business for distribution and services, the Ford Venari Alliance marks the start of plans to grow and develop opportunities with key conversions partnerships, ensuring customers from every vocation have access to specialised vehicles.
In July, Ford and Venari Group signed a memorandum of understanding for a new emergency vehicles alliance. The all-new, lightweight front-line ambulance is to be produced at a new facility in Ford Dagenham from 2022, utilising an existing, non-production location that will be refreshed to accommodate its manufacturing requirements. It is anticipated that the new business will create around 100 new jobs once production begins in 2022.