Ford has announced that F-Series pickup truck production will resume after a fire at one of its suppliers hampered its ability to crank out America’s best-selling vehicle line. Production of the F-150 will restart Friday at the Dearborn Truck Plant. By Monday, Ford is expected to resume Super Duty production at the Kentucky Truck Plant and F-150 production at the Kansas City Assembly Plant.
On May 2, a fire ripped through Meridian Magnesium Products, which produced front bolsters for the F-150, Super Duty, Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator. In addition, Meridian supplied parts for the Explorer, Flex, and Linclon MKT, though production on those lines continued as normal. To get the affected truck plants up and running again, Ford worked with a team of suppliers and contractors to repair and move the huge dies that produce the bolsters.
A total of 19 dies were removed from the damaged portion of Meridian’s facility in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, including one that was flown to Nottingham, U.K., via an Antonov Ruslan cargo plane. Ford says that moving a bolster die weighing 87,000 pounds overseas would normally take 10 days, but because its bottom line was at stake, the Blue Oval managed to cut that down to 30 hours including flight time. The parts are now being built by Meridian in Eaton Rapids and in the U.K., where they are shipped back to the U.S. daily. That sounds like a lot of work to restart production on two trucks, but when those two trucks are your best-selling products by far, the haste is understandable.
The Meridian fire also affected other automakers including FCA, BMW, GM, and Mercedes, but so far there’s no word how they’re dealing with the aftermath of the fire.