Supplier Shortage Causes F-150 Production Hiccup
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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Interesting: Dearborn Truck, Kentucky Truck, and Ohio Truck are unaffected. Supplied by different facilities?
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.