Car News:  Oversteer

I Visited the Ford F-150 Rouge Assembly Plant (and You Can, Too!)

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2018 Ford F150 2WD SuperCrew
Used 2018 Ford F150
$26,575
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 Ford F150 4x4 SuperCrew
New 2018 Ford F150
MSRP $64,450
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 Ford F150 4x4 XLT
New 2018 Ford F150
MSRP $48,500
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 Ford F150 4x4 Crew Cab Raptor
New 2018 Ford F150
MSRP $71,155
RELATED READING
See all Ford F150 articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Sam Keller May 2018

I recently took a trip to Michigan, a state rich with automotive history. It's here where automobiles first became mass produced and where the car assembly line was perfected. I've always wanted to visit an automotive plant and witness cars rolling along the production line, and I did just that when I stopped in Dearborn, Michigan, and toured Ford's Rouge Assembly Plant, where the F-150 pickup is assembled.

Since the early 20th century, the global headquarters for Ford has been located in Dearborn. Upon completion of the initial plant in 1928 at the River Rouge site in Dearborn, it became the largest integrated production site in the world -- able to turn vehicles from raw steel into a finished product. The one-and-a-half by one-mile site is a historic landmark for industrial processes, originally building Eagle "antisubmarine" boats during World War I and knock-down kits of the Model T, which were then moved by rail to other assembly sites. Over the years, the Rouge Assembly Plant also produced the Ford Mustang (until 2004, when production was moved to Flat Rock, MI), before becoming the main production site for the Ford F-150 truck.

Ford has built the River Rouge site to evolve with production needs, and to bring closed-loop production to its most advanced stage in history. Ford goes to great lengths to ensure maximum efficiency throughout the facility, and this is seen at many stages, beginning with the pressing of the chassis, where the aluminum waste is shredded and then sold right back to the supplier on the same transport where the material is delivered. Ford uses a rainwater reclamation system to manage flooding on the River Rouge, as well as a 10-acre sustainable green roof, which was the largest in the world when constructed.

Since the Rouge Assembly Plant covers a monstrous one million square feet, the tour only takes you through the final assembly portion of the facility, which, in my opinion, is the most exciting part. After watching short films on the history of the plant and Ford's manufacturing innovations, and then surveying the site from an observation deck, the tour moves to a raised walkway above the area where the final assembly takes place.

From the final assembly viewing platform, visitors are able to see the assembly process in real time. Here, painted truck chasses on beachwood platforms called "skillets" move from one station to another. Beachwood is used for its springy properties, offering some shock absorption for assembly workers who work 11-hour, 4-day-a-week shifts at the plant. The Rouge workforce consists of 7,000 employees, and 1,200 work at any time per shift. Workforce training consists of two weeks of off-site training, one week of onsite orientation and finally two weeks of "mock-up" training. Employees become members of the United Auto Workers Local 600 union, and tend to average 20 to 25 years of employment at Ford.

From the viewing platform, I was immediately struck by how quiet the assembly floor was. Instead of using loud pneumatic tools, assembly line workers use quieter electric tools -- and they only focus on a single task per station, each stocked with two hours of parts. A computer embedded in each tool measures and records the angle of contact and amount of torque applied to each nut and bolt for quality control. In addition, laser measurements are constantly taken as the vehicle rolls down the assembly line. Hazardous and ultra-precise steps like auto paint and windshield installation are done by machine -- however nearly all of the assembly is done by hand. All of these considerations and more ensure that a finished F-150 truck rolls off the line every 52 seconds.

The F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle produced in the United States for the past 40 years, and roughly 290,000 of the 800,000 globally produced F-150 models are assembled in here in Dearborn. Annually, 25,000 visitors tour the Rouge Assembly Plant -- and if you've ever dreamed of witnessing a modern vehicle being assembled, I highly recommend taking the tour. It is quite a sight to behold.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
The Early Chrysler LX Cars Aren't Aging Well
Video | Here's Why the BMW i3 Isn't Worth $50,000
Here Are the Cheapest Electric Cars For Sale on Autotrader

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2018 Ford F150 2WD SuperCrew
Used 2018 Ford F150
$26,575
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 Ford F150 4x4 SuperCrew
New 2018 Ford F150
MSRP $64,450
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 Ford F150 4x4 XLT
New 2018 Ford F150
MSRP $48,500
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 Ford F150 4x4 Crew Cab Raptor
New 2018 Ford F150
MSRP $71,155
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
I Visited the Ford F-150 Rouge Assembly Plant (and You Can, Too!) - Autotrader