DEARBORN, Mich. — After being fully shut down for eight days, workers streamed into the Dearborn Truck Plant for the 6 a.m. shift Friday and rolled the first F-150 off the line before 6:01 a.m.
“We build one F-150 every 52 seconds at this plant,” said Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker, who was on site by 5:30 a.m. “It was beautiful to see, just beautiful.”
She watched the sun rise on the cool mid-May morning as about 1,400 men and women arrived. Mostly dressed in blue jeans, they parked their personal cars, trucks and minivans at a lot on the historic Rouge manufacturing site near Rotunda Drive and Miller roads. Hundreds walked together across Miller into the plant, many carrying lunch boxes, jackets slung over their shoulders.
The single shift is the first of three expected to be fully running by Monday after a May 2 supplier fire in Eaton Rapids disrupted production with a parts shortage. Some 4,000 plant workers in Dearborn were affected.
On Friday, plant manager Brad Huff and his team monitored as crews throughout the entire plant tested the tooling and conveyors to make sure everything worked properly before pushing the button to start the assembly line.
First came a blue pickup. Then a white pickup. Then a black pickup. America’s bestselling truck was back in action. And so the rhythm would continue for 10 hours.
Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president of product development and purchasing at Ford, did several live national media interviews inside the plant.
Meanwhile, F-150 production is targeted to restart at the Kansas City Assembly Plant on Monday. And the Ford team has repaired the Super Duty supply chain, with production slated to begin at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville by Monday, too.
Ford is flying parts from the United Kingdom daily on a 747 aircraft until the Eaton Rapids plant is up and running fully. The supplier is working around the clock to get everything rebuilt as quickly as possible.
The Dearborn-based automaker ended up with 7,600 worker layoffs in Michigan, Kentucky and Missouri, as the fire disrupted a truck franchise that generates more than $100 million a day in revenue for Ford.
While other automakers were impacted by the Meridian Magnesium Products of America fire and explosion, Ford was most affected as the supplier’s biggest customer for parts used for the F-150 and Super Duty trucks, Expedition, Explorer and Navigator, as well as Lincoln vehicles.
In April alone, Ford built 31,482 trucks in Dearborn.
In 2017, Ford built 1,052,658 F-Series trucks that sold for an average of $46,500.