A Tour of Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant

A Tour of Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant
26 Jan 2015

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Anson and I decided to hang out in Detroit for an extra day to join the last group of international media on a plant tour of Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant.

Michigan Casting Center

Opened in January 1972, Ford’s Michigan Casting Center, or MCC as it was then known, was one of the most technologically advanced casting facilities in the world. The Michigan Casting Center closed in 1981.

In 1985, Mazda Motor Corporation started building a new building on the old MCC site, dubbed “Mazda Manufacturing USA”. Mazda was to produce their Mazda MX-6, and the Ford Probe, which was supposed to be the replacement for the Mustang. Die-hard Mustang fans disliked the front-wheel drive configuration, Japanese engineering, and lack of a V8, so Ford began work on a new design for the Mustang instead. The Probe was based on the G-platform, the same as the Mazda MX-6. In 1987, Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe coupes started rolling off the line.

AutoAlliance International

On April 15, 1992, Ford repurchased a 50% share in it’s former plant. On July 1, 1992, it officially became a joint Ford-Mazda venture, and was renamed AutoAlliance International.

In 1993, production began on the Mazda 626. The Ford Probe had run it’s course, so Ford brought back the Mercury badged Cougar, which shared the same platform as the Mazda 626. In 2002, the 626’s successor, the Mazda 6, began production. The Ford Mustang began production in 2005.

Mazda discontinued production in the US on August 24th, 2012, ending the 20 year joint-venture between Mazda and Ford.

Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant

Ford Motor Company took over full control of the plant on September 10, 2012. As it was now Ford plant, they renamed it Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant. At this time, Ford confirmed $555 million in investments to retool Flat Rock for the production of the 2013 Ford Fusion. Up to that date, assembly of the Fusion was done in Mexico.

A second shift of approximately 1,200 workers were added to produce the Fusion in the Summer of 2013.

With 2,900,000 square feet of production space, the Flat Rock plant employs 1,685 unionized hourly workers, represented by the United Auto Workers Local 3000. There are also 140 non-unionized salaried workers.

Not only does the Flat Rock plant currently produce the Ford Fusion, but it also produces the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang.

Safety Briefing

After we covered the history of the Flat Rock plant, we watched a video about safety while on the tour. Normally, video and photography are not allowed on tours through the Flat Rock plant. However, our group got special permission to capture footage, as long as we were respectful not to get anyone’s faces in our pictures.

Tours of the Flat Rock plant are very rare, as it is not really set up for tours the way the Rouge is.

Once the briefing was over, we were all given safety glasses, and grouped off into 3 groups of 16.

Our group was last, so we decided to check out the Mustangs in the lobby, and take a few pictures.

The Tour

Anson and I boarded the “tour train” with our group. Each train cart was equipped with a speaker, so you could hear what the tour guide was saying. Because our group had a few extra people, they added an extra cart. As we chose to sit in the last cart, the guide gave us head sets, so we could hear what he was saying.

The first section we cruised by was fabrication. Here, parts are stamped, put onto crates, and stored in this area until needed on the line.

There are quite a few jobs that are done by robots on the line. Here, robots cut and weld parts that will later be used to assemble vehicles on the line.

Here are a row of Mustang frames . Reminds me of when I was a kid putting together models. This was the first step.

At this point in the process, the chassis is put on the line.

Here, the hood and doors are installed, and the vehicle sis prepped for painting.

At this point on the assembly line, the vehicle rotates 45 degrees, making the underbody more accessible for the workers to install required parts.

I was having an amazing time learning all about the process from start to finish. The guide worked on the line, so knew every last detail, and was very thorough.

There are many engines used in the Fusion and Mustang platforms.

Fusion: 2.5L Duratec 16V I4 Engine, 1.5L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4 EcoBoost®, 1.5L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4 EcoBoost® with Automatic Start-Stop, 2.0L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4 EcoBoost®, 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Hybrid Engine, 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid Engine.

Mustang: 2.3L EcoBoost®, 3.7L V6, 5.0L V8

The plant was extremely clean and organized. Safety is one of Ford’s pillars, and it was very evident at Flat Rock that everyone lives and breathes that pillar.

Interior parts are added… seats, centre console, etc…

The last few parts are added on…

Assembly is done! The vehicles is now driven off the line, and over to a holding area.

From the holding area, the vehicles go through an inspection, and are then driven to a lot to be shipped off to their destination.

Throughout the tour, one thing was very evident… the workers LOVED what they were doing, and looked like they were having a lot of fun producing these vehicles.

What an Amazing Experience!

Our visit and tour of Ford’s Flat Rock plant was complete. Being able to see first hand, and at floor level, the Fusion and Mustang being produced was incredible.

Another one to cross off my rather humble bucket list.

Cheers,
Big Daddy

If you would like me to review your product, service or travel destination, please send me an email at craig@bigdaddykreativ.ca or find me on “the twitter” at @BigDaddyKreativ


Craig Silva

Craig is a passionate and seasoned travel, food, and lifestyle writer, whose words paint vivid pictures of the world's most captivating destinations. His work not only inspires others to embark on their own adventures but also fosters a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of our world. He captures the essence of each locale, offering readers a glimpse into the cultures, landscapes, cuisine, and experiences that make travel so enriching. Craig is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). If you are a PR agency or brand and would like Craig to review a travel destination, vehicle, restaurant, product or service, please send him an email.

Comments

  1. Pete Musick : April 8, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Great article! Visiting Dearborn and the Rouge is on my bucket list too. Any idea if someone buying a new Mustang can tour the Flat rock plant and pick up their car?

    • Congrats on buying a new Mustang! The Flat Rock assembly plant is not set up for public tours. I worked for Ford at the time I wrote this, and was on a work tour of the plant. The only plant that is set up for public Tours is the Rouge, which you can access through the Henry Ford Museum.

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