Ford trains thousands of new workers at Kansas City assembly plant to support aluminum body pickup production
Since May 2013, more than 8,000 skilled trades and production workers at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant and Kansas City Assembly Plant have undergone hundreds of hours of intensive training program to support production of the all-new aluminum-body Ford F-150.
The production training program was designed to support F-150’s innovative manufacturing process, which incorporates the latest in advanced materials and forming and joining technologies, including a cutting-edge riveting operation system versus conventional welding.
Totaling more than 400 hours of in-class and hands-on courses, the skilled trades program covers everything from installing and configuring new equipment for the production line to constructing the truck’s advanced electrical control system.
“Through this program, we have armed both our skilled trades and production workers with the skills necessary to produce the next generation of vehicle technology,” said Aris Janitens, Ford Launch Planning and Work Force Readiness manager.
“Our workers now are able to deal with the latest in automotive manufacturing technology and, as a result, keep production on schedule to deliver best-in-class, quality trucks to our customers.”
The new manufacturing process called for the overhaul of both Dearborn Truck and Kansas City Assembly facilities.
Dearborn Truck saw its largest manufacturing transformation in decades wherein legacy manufacturing equipment was replaced with the latest in production technology, including:
- New press lines to help stamp four different types of aluminum alloys that assist with light-weighting the vehicle cab and box
- New hydroforming lines to use fluid pressure to form metal tubes into structurally strong support rails
- New chemical and heat treat area for corrosion resistance and material hardening results in stronger, more durable materials
- Implementation of a closed-loop aluminum recycling system process in which all aluminum assembly scrap is collected and sorted so it can be used again in new F-150s – a process that saves energy and lowers cost
- Investment in 500 new robots in the all-new body shops to conduct state-of-the-art joining technology, resulting in a tougher, more durable truck
- Updated paint shops with dirt detection technology and increased automation for more durable paint application
“An effective vehicle launch starts by understanding the current processes and constraints of an assembly plant to align them with the new parts and processes that are being rolled out,” said Brian Miller, truck launch manager for Kansas City Assembly Plant. “But the most important part of a successful launch is the people. The people on the assembly line are key to producing the best truck on the road today.”
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The training program has resulted in the successful launch of the all-new 2015 F-150 at Dearborn Truck Plant. Kansas City Assembly Plant is on plan to start building production trucks by the end of the first quarter of 2015.
Combined, Dearborn Truck and Kansas City Assembly will have capacity to produce more than 700,000 Ford F-150 pickups per year for availability in 90 markets globally.
In January, Ford F-Series had its strongest sales month since 2004, the company’s best sales year ever for F-150. F-150 sat just 12 days on dealer lots last month – turning faster than any other Ford vehicle.
In addition, more than 1.5 million people have built and priced F-150 configurations online.