With the public on-sale date fast approaching for the F-150,Ford has begun overhauling its manufacturing plants to prepare for the rapid ramp-up for large-scale production of the aluminum-based vehicle. The last of the previous year’s models are finished, and beginning earlier this week, the focus switched to implementing and integrating new equipment to oversee the aluminum manufacturing process. From Bloomberg:
Ford Motor Co. (F), the second-largest U.S. automaker, has begun an eight-week closure of its Dearborn, Michigan, F-150 pickup plant to overhaul it for a new, aluminum-bodied version of the top-selling vehicle line in the U.S.
“This is historic for the industry, not just for Ford,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, told reporters today at the company’s product development center in Dearborn. “To take the No. 1 selling vehicle for 32 years — it will be 33 soon — and convert it like this, at this volume, to aluminum, is historic and unprecedented.”
Michigan workers assembled their last 2014 F-150 early on Aug. 22 and crews began tearing up the plant to make way for the new equipment necessary to manufacture parts out of aluminum, Hinrichs said. The conversion began one day ahead of schedule, he said, and this weekend, 1,100 trucks will stream into the plant to deliver the new tools. By mid-October, the factory will be building the “production version” of the 2015 model, he said.
“This is a massive undertaking, one of the bigger logistical challenges we’ve ever seen,” Hinrichs said. “It’s been orchestrated literally by the minute, by the truckload.”
This is just the first step for Ford as the company re-evaluates its North American manufacturing plan. For more details, read the entire Bloomberg article.