Supplier Fire, Production Shutdown … PR Boost?

supplier fire production shutdown 8230 pr boost

It was a drama “worthy of a James Bond script,” the Detroit Free Press‘ sensational headline announced. Ford spokesman Mike Levine provided a hashtag-heavy rundown of the operation’s timeline via Twitter. The automaker even felt it worthy of a lengthy media release.

Never has a supply chain disruption provided a car company so much positive PR.

The hastily planned effort to restart Ford F-150 and Super Duty production stemmed from a massive May 2nd fire at Meridian Magnesium Products in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. In the blaze’s wake, several automakers found themselves lacking the various parts needed to produce a wide number of vehicles. Shutdowns and temporary layoffs followed.

Facing the loss of approximately 15,000 F-150s a week, Ford mobilized employees on both sides of the Atlantic to reach a workaround. Then it hired a Russian cargo plane. Moonraker it ain’t, but the automaker can now announce that production of the world’s best-selling vehicle resumes on Friday.

According to the company, Meridian is once again producing truck parts, having refurbished and moved tooling at Eaton Rapids. To jump-start parts production, Ford removed 19 dies from the facility on May 6th, then flew them to its facility in Nottingham, England on May 8th via an Antonov An-124 cargo plane. Ford enthusiastically states that one of the dies weighed 87,000 pounds. (The An-124 has an onboard crane capable of winching 120 tons into the belly of the Russian bird. Canada used it extensively to move military materials in the early years of the Afghanistan campaign.)

On May 14th, parts production began in Nottingham, Levine tweeted.


“While the situation remains extremely dynamic, our teams are focused on returning our plants to full production as fast as possible,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, in a statement. “The ramp-up time to full production is improving every day.”

F-150 production begins Friday at the company’s Dearborn Truck Plant. The remainder of F-150 production, as well as that of the Super Duty line, starts up at the Kansas City Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant on Monday.

The company’s release describes a heroic, and perhaps even dangerous effort to restart production of a beloved (and wildly profitable) vehicle that bleeds red, white, and blue. Raise your hand if you feel a cringe coming on. Anyway, as someone once said, never let a good crisis go to waste. Perhaps the less cynical among us will take a different view of what amounts to a fairly impressive effort, albeit one without a humanitarian bent.

Meanwhile, because Meridian isn’t yet up to speed and the supply of certain parts remain depleted, production interruptions continue for some Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, and General Motors vehicles.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on May 17, 2018

    If Ford people are so smart how they cannot make cars profitably instead of finding ways to collude with Putin. I am pretty sure that Putin personally set fire on plant to hurt Hillary and Democrats and help Trump in midterm elections.

    • VW4motion VW4motion on May 17, 2018

      Your attempt to put down the non-trump believer did not come out very well. Next time try and use grammar check before posting.

  • SPPPP SPPPP on May 17, 2018

    "...a beloved (and wildly profitable) vehicle that bleeds red, white, and blue". Hmm, so what colors do Russian vehicles bleed? Think hard before you answer this one.

  • Theflyersfan If you ever want a review on a 2022 Mazda MX-5 GT RF, I'll be more than happy to type up a few thousand words and add in some great pictures in front of Churchill Downs for y'all!In a nutshell, I agree with this review. I didn't have a chance to try the Recaro seats because the only test drive available was with another GT that someone backed out in buying so it was being used as a demo. But from what I was told, if you're larger than a 38 waist or taller than 5'10", it gets tight. But with the standard seats, and I'm 5'10" and maybe 20 pounds from the 38 waist, I fit fine. Now getting in and out with the roof up after shoulder surgery (especially leaving the surgery center with most of the right arm under a nerve block) is the total opposite of graceful!!! The look on the nurse's face when the MX-5 pulled up and I'm partially wrapped up like a mummy was priceless.I've had mine since the middle of April and have already put 6,700 miles on it, including round trips from Louisville to Chicago and the Philadelphia suburbs. Averaged 38-39 mpg at a steady 75 mph, and it wasn't a torture chamber. The metal top helped a lot. The standard seats are a bit thin on padding, and there was a bit of squirming by around hour 8 on the Philly drive, but it's possible. But even though this design was released in 2015, I still get compliments from total strangers at stoplights, carwashes, gas stations, restaurants, etc. The Soul Red Metallic paint just makes the car pop. I wish it was available with the Terra Cotta leather (the gray above is available with it), and that it didn't have the standard all in black, because it gets thermonuclear in there with the top down and the sun beating on you, but a minor quibble. But it's just fun. Pure driving fun. The best stick shift in any car today. Solid brakes, excellent handling, a sane amount of power to where you aren't going to get into anything reckless and stupid. After a 12+ hour day at work, there's nothing better than dropping the top and driving the 20 minutes home with the better than I thought it would be Bose stereo playing Moby into my ears through the headrest speakers. Mazda has already announced there will be an NE model so I can't wait for that. It'll be interesting how they will keep the weight down with the expected changes to eke more MPG out of what is already an efficient car.
  • FreedMike I don’t know if I buy into the “they’re coming for our cars” stuff - they’ve been saying that for a long time now - but I wouldn’t argue with one word of this review otherwise.
  • Oberkanone It's not a Jimny! Would be nice if we still had a selection of Suzuki auto in the US. Sidekick was simple and affordable.
  • Dave M. I will say this generation styling has grown on me; previously I thought the Fiat version was far better looking. Miatas have always been pure joy to drive.
  • Kendahl A Tesla feature has been free, periodic, over-the-air, software updates that add new features or improve existing ones. Owners brag that their x-year-old car is better today, because of the updates, than it was brand new. Will Tesla start charging for these updates after a few years? Teslas hold their value very well. I suspect losing free updates will do serious damage to that.