Ford’s hi-tech factory is using ostrich feathers

What does it take to turn a 40-year-old car factory into a robotic wonderland of manufacturing technology?

At Ford’s biggest European plant, in Spain’s south-eastern coastal city of Valencia, it was $2.6bn (£1.7bn; €2.3bn) and a lot of ostrich feathers.

Journalists have now been allowed inside the factory for the first time to see what Ford claims are one of the “world’s most advanced, flexible and productive” facilities.

But among all the hi-tech, it’s low-tech bird plumage that’s the big talking point.

You see, ostrich feathers – as any professional cleaner knows – are darn good at collecting dust.

So, after giant 2,000-tonne presses stamp car body panels from steel rolls and robots laser-weld them together, the shell glides along the production line to be painted.

The whole system is designed to prevent static electricity from causing particles to stick to the vehicle. Through their unique construction and durability, ostrich feathers are perfect for picking up and holding tiny particles.

Dirk Hoelzer, Ford of Europe’s chief paint engineer.