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article imageSupplier fire forces suspension of Ford F-150 production

By Karen Graham     May 10, 2018 in Business
Eaton Rapids - After a May 2 fire at a supplier's factory in Michigan caused a shortage of parts, Ford on Wednesday suspended production of its F-150 pickup truck—the best-selling vehicle in the US for more than three decades.
Flames and explosions ripped through the Chinese-owned Meridian Magnesium Products of America Plant Number 3 in Eaton Rapids, Michigan on May 2, Two employees sustained injuries, and were treated and released after being hospitalized.
The plant encompasses 208,000 square feet, the supplier's website says. That's similar in size to two Target retail stores. Meridian produces instrument panel components at the plant, with annual production of around 13,140 net metric tons (14,484 tons), the supplier's website said.
In its aftermath, the fire ripped through the North American auto industry, reports the Detroit Free Press, but hit Ford hardest. Production at General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Mercedes also was disrupted.
"The impact on everybody else is going to pale compared to Ford," said Abhay (Abe) Vadhavkar, director of manufacturing, engineering, and technology at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. "For Ford, this is potentially enormous."
Ford F-150 pickup truck
Ford F-150 pickup truck
Ford Motor Company
Ford suspends production late Wednesday night
Ford made the decision to suspend production of the F-150 temporarily at its plant in Dearborn, Michigan, on Wednesday night. The company had already suspended truck production at a plant just outside Kansas City, Missouri. These are the only two plants that make the F-150.
The automaker said it is also suspending production of its Ford F-Series Super Duty, a larger version of the pickup truck, at its Louisville, Kentucky plant, but plans to continue production of the Super Duty truck at another plant in Ohio.
"This is a fluid situation, but we are working closely with our supplier partners to do everything we can to limit the impact on our production," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations in a statement. "We're confident that any impacts will be short term."
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"We have to rebuild the whole supply chain," he added. The production halt is expected to last "several days," and according to a sales analyst, Ford has an 84-day supply of F-150s and the company has laid off about 7,600 workers. But one thing is a given - Ford customers are a loyal bunch, so they will stick by the automaker until things get back on track.
According to Automotive News, the source of the fire at Meridian Products is still under investigation. Online records from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration reveal that the plant was cited for a slew of safety violations -- most recently in November 2016 which emphasized injury and illness.
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