Despite a massive fire at the Meridian Magnesium Products facility in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant will resume F-150 production on Friday, May 17th. Ford says the supply chain for the Super Duty is also restored, and production should restart at the Kentucky Truck Plant by Monday, May 21st. The Kansas City Assembly Plant, which produces F-150s, is also scheduled to resume operations by May 21st.
“While the situation remains extremely dynamic, our teams are focused on returning our plants to full production as fast as possible,” explained Joe Hinrichs, Ford President, Global Operations.
After the May 2nd fire, teams addressed safety concerns and restored electricity as quickly as they could. The goal was to retrieve and relocate tools so production could resume, and the financial impacts of the stalled plants could be minimized. The teams ultimately removed 19 dies (a tool used to cut or shape material using a press) from Meridian’s fire-damaged facility.
In one instance, teams moved an 87,000 lbs. die from Eaton Rapids, Michigan to Nottingham, U.K. in a mere 30 hours. Under normal circumstances, something of this magnitude would take 10 days when considering import and export approvals and flight logistics. The die was sent to Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio where it was loaded onto an Antonov An-124 Ruslan, an aircraft renowned for its heavy cargo capacity.
“Faced with unexpected adversity, the Ford team, including our global supply partners, showed unbelievable resiliency, turning a devastating event into a shining example of teamwork,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s Executive Vice President of Product Development and Purchasing.
Last Minute Approval
Nearly 4,000 miles away, a team in Nottingham was waiting to take the die to Meridian’s nearby factory. A U.K. import license for the die was granted only two hours before the plane landed.
“Thanks to their heroic efforts, we are resuming production of some of our most important vehicles ahead of our original targets,” Thai-Tang said.
“The ramp-up time to full production is improving every day,” Hinrichs added.
Most of the dies have been repaired, and Meridian is now producing parts for the F-150 in both Eaton Rapids and Nottingham. Parts produced at Nottingham will be shipped daily on a Boeing 747 until production in Eaton Rapids resumes fully. Ford says current F-150 inventory remains strong and customers should experience no delays in finding the truck they want.