Ford Motor Company announced that since May 2013, more than 8,000 skilled trade and production workers at its Dearborn Truck Plant and Kansas City Assembly Plant have undergone training to support production of the all-new Ford F-150.
The production training program was designed to support F-150’s manufacturing process, which incorporates the latest in advanced materials and forming and joining technologies, including a 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.”
A unique element of the overall program is the “train the trainer” model, in which the workers become subject matter experts on the new equipment, enabling them to train the crew they work with on a daily basis.
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 lightweighting 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 the 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.”
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. The 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.
Ford states that the all-new F-150 is the toughest, smartest and most capable F-150 ever – boasting a military-grade, aluminum-alloy body and high-strength steel frame, and shedding up to 700 pounds for a lighter, more efficient truck than any previous F-150.
These weight savings, Ford says, lead to customer benefits regardless of model configuration or engine choice. The new truck can tow up to 1,100 more pounds and haul up to 530 more pounds than the 2014 model, and it has the highest EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of any full-size gasoline pickup on the market. When equipped with an available 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, the new F-150 4×2 returns EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. Actual mileage will vary.
Numerous features debuted in the all-new F-150, including these class-exclusives:
- 360-degree camera view uses exterior cameras to create a bird’s-eye view of the truck to help drivers park, maneuver in tight spots, and navigate narrow roads and trails when driving slowly
- Integrated loading ramps enable easy loading of ATVs, motorcycles and mowers
- BoxLink cargo management system combines metal brackets and custom cleats to secure a variety of accessories in the cargo box – from ramps to storage bins to bed dividers
- Trailer hitch assist adds a new rearview camera feature that incorporates a dynamic line based on steering wheel angle in the display to help customers line up their truck and trailer with no spotter or need to exit the vehicle
- Remote tailgate allows for tailgate to be locked, unlocked and released with the key fob
F-150 is part of the Ford F-Series, celebrating its 38th straight year as America’s best-selling truck and 33rd straight year as America’s best-selling vehicle. Ford sold 753,851 trucks in 2014.