By on May 7, 2018

All-New 2018 Ford F-150 - Image: Ford

Ford has paused production of the F-150 at its Kansas City Assembly Plant after a fire at one of the facilities belonging a Michigan-based supplier created a parts shortage. Meridian Lightweight Technologies makes instrument panel components for the pickup.

Roughly 3,600 unionized plant workers at the Kansas City facility have been told to cool their heels at home from May 7th to 14th, according to an Automotive News report.

A fire and series of explosions ripped through the Meridian factory last week, injuring two people and leading to the evacuation of 150 workers. The conflagration reportedly happened during a 1:30 a.m. shift change. Eaton Rapids City Manager Aaron Desentz told the Lansing State Journal the fire seemingly originated in an area of the plant called the “tunnel,” where workers put magnesium scraps on a conveyor belt to be melted down.

High school chemistry teaches us that magnesium is highly flammable, especially when powdered or shaved into thin strips, though it is difficult to ignite in mass or bulk. It generally sets alight at about 900 degrees Fahrenheit but produces a flame more than four times that temperature. Similar to an ill-advised, late-night Cheesy Gordita Crunch, then.

Ford employees placed on furlough during the interruption will apparently receive four-fifths of their normal take home pay for the hours they’re losing as a result of the work stoppage. All 3,600 of the affected workers build the F-150. Those responsible for hammering together Transit vans are unaffected.

Suspending production of the F-150 for a week is no small deal. The company sold 73,000 copies of the F-Series truck last month (yes, we know that number includes heavy duty variants beyond what is produced on the affected line). Still, some rough back-of-napkin math reveals that the company will likely sell about 18,000 to 20,000 F-150s while the plant is idle.

Is this a volume large enough to put a damper on future sales? A blip in production is never welcome but this author thinks it is a safe bet the number of trucks on the ground will cover any gap, at least in the short term. If sales are a bit off later this year, perhaps we’ll point to this development as a contributing factor.

Meridian manufactures components for other companies as well, including Mercedes-Benz. They, according to AN, will reassess their situation later on in the week. The supplier says it is in the throes of moving some of its production equipment in an effort to get production back up and running.

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12 Comments on “Supplier Shortage Causes F-150 Production Hiccup...”


  • avatar
    gasser

    Hooray for the “just in time” production system.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I would assume the savings from running JIT far outweigh the costs of occasional supply interruptions like this. More so if the OEM has an alternate supplier qualified to “turn on”, in the case of extended interruption.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        +1 Steve

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        The “alternate” is sending the undamaged tools to the UK–which is what they did.

        Also you can’t just “turn on” with this component as it’s very critical to the dimensions of the cab. Even upon receiving the tools overseas they still need to get it through PPAP as quickly as possible.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    So Transits are assembled using hammers? Who knew?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I have an F-150 Crew Cab rental at the moment. It’s just an XLT, with the 3.3-liter V6 and RWD, so it isn’t well-equipped, though oddly enough, it does have navigation and a front console.

    Still, it’s comfortable, quiet, and efficient. I can see why Ford sells so many.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I have rented a few UHaul Sierras. I was pleasantly surprised. V8 sounds very cool and overall they’re not bad to drive. Gas mileage is about where my G is (and insanely straight line speed is not far off). My only gripe… a crew cab, even with the short bed, is effing huge. For the size/price/equipment level I’d rather have something like a G80 5.0.

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    Interesting: Dearborn Truck, Kentucky Truck, and Ohio Truck are unaffected. Supplied by different facilities?

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Dearborn has enough to run for the moment.

      KTP is only running Expedition and Navigator. They are not running Super Duty.

      OHAP has a different cab than is what is used across from the F150/Super Duty.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Ford has an opportunity to produce a new dash! A decent one that doesn’t ooze a Made in China, Rubber Maid product.

    I just went around for a day in my sisters VM diesel Grand Cherokee, maybe Ford should look to FCA for inspiration with interiors.

    • 0 avatar
      RSF

      Like the leather covered dash in the Overland that loosens up and becomes wavy? FCA does make dependable check engine lights though.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Rubbermaid, Playskool, who cares? Nobody (that matters). The “Soft Touch” experience that excites the senses you can save for your alone time.

      Do you jump in a truck and go right for feeling up the dash?

      These are still work trucks, but between kids, big dogs (claws), construction workers, random boxes and god knows what else, the dash and door panels are gonna get banged around.

      20 ft trim pieces, or pvc go through the slider, all the way to the windshield, no other way to haul them in a pinch.

      Yeah the panels need to be pleasing to the eye, stand up to normal use, blazing heat, UV rays for decades, but after that, they just need to hide unsightly hardware, brackets and other junk.

      If your dash is a conversation piece, you’re not in a “truck”.

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