Short summer shutdown at F-150 plants helps make up for cancelled overtime shifts due to frame shortage.
Ford will build an extra 40,000 trucks and utility vehicles by shortening the summer shutdown at six assembly plants and another 12 powertrain and stamping plants this summer.
Top of the list: more F-150 pickups from the Dearborn Truck and Kansas City, Missouri, assembly plants which will have a single week of downtime in July instead of the traditional two weeks.
The extra shifts might make up for some overtime shifts that have had to be cancelled because a Kentucky supplier has not been able to keep up with the demand for F-150 steel frames .
Supply shortages often occur during a vehicle launch, even one as carefully orchestrated as the F-150. But the pickup launch is under greater scrutiny.
The launch was more complicated than most because of the decision to switch to an aluminum body for the 2015 F-150.
And any hiccup in production is monitored because the trucks are Ford’s financial bedrock, accounting for as much as 90% of the automaker’s profits by some analyst estimations. First-quarter earnings were down by $1 billion because pickup production was still down by 40% and Ford was only at half production of the recently launched Ford Edge.
It meant the the industry took notice when Todd Hillyard, bargaining chairman with UAW Local 249 in Kansas City posted on Facebook recently that some future extra overtime shifts have been cancelled at the plants that were already running full out.
On the parts shortage, Ford said in a statement: “We are producing the all-new F-150 at full production at Dearborn Truck Plant and will be at full production this quarter at our Kansas City Assembly Plant. As with all our vehicle launches, we are working closely with our suppliers to meet customer demand for the truck.”
Meanwhile, with continued low gasoline prices bolstering strong truck and crossover sales, Ford will also reduce the summer shutdown to a single week at the Oakville, Ont., plant that is making the new Edge; the Chicago plant that makes the Explorer; the Louisville, Ky, plant that makes the Escape and Kentucky Truck plant that makes the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs as well as the Super Duty pickups that also will switch to aluminum bodies.
“Six of our assembly plants will build for an additional week in order to ensure we’re getting more of our vehicles into dealerships,” said Bruce Hettle, head of North America manufacturing.
Ford begins its summer shutdown June 29. In addition to the six assembly plants that will return to work after only one week, there are 12 powertrain and stamping plants that have to cut their vacation short.
They include: Livonia Transmission, Rawsonville Transmission, Sharonville Transmission, Sterling Axle, Buffalo Stamping, Chicago Stamping, Dearborn Consolidated, Kansas City Stamping, Kentucky Stamping and Woodhaven Stamping.