Built Ford Tough: The Rouge Factory Tour

Built Ford Tough: The Rouge Factory Tour
21 Jan 2015

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Day 3 started off with a quick visit to Cobo Hall for the Lincoln Press Conference, and then off to do a tour of the Dearborn Truck Plant at the Rouge Factory. I have visited this plant before in 2013. This would be the first time I would get to see the production of the new 2015 F-150.

A small city…

The Rouge Factory is located just south of Detroit, where the Rouge and Detroit Rivers merge into one. Henry Ford sourced this area so that he could have everything done in one place… everything contained in this one plant… all that was needed to produce complete automobiles. He wanted the Rouge to include a tire-making plant, stamping plant, engine casting plant, frame and assembly plant, transmission plant, radiator plant, tool and die plant, and it’s own railroad with 100 miles of track and 16 locomotives. Like small city, the Rouge had it all.

At it’s peak in the 1930s, the Rouge housed 100,000 workers, a maintenance crew of 5,000, required a multi-station fire department, a modern police force, and a fully staffed hospital. Although assembly of the Model T remained at the Highland Park Plant, virtually every Model T component was produced at the Rouge.

Now, the Rouge is home to the next generation of Ford truck, the military grade aluminum-alloy body 2015 F-150.

Legacy Theatre

Our first stop on the tour was a presentation that walked us through the triumphs and tragedies of the Rouge Factory, which included rare photos and video footage.

The short 13 minute film gave you a good understanding of what was involved to get the Rouge up and running, how important this plant was to Ford, and how revolutionary this plant was to the automotive industry.

The film also touched on Henry Ford doubling his employee’s wages to $5 a day in 1914, and lowering the workday from 9 to 8 hours a day. The higher wages meant that the employees building the automobiles could afford to buy one for themselves.

Manufacturing Innovation Theatre

The second part of the tour had us walking into a really cool octagonal theatre, with large high-mounted screens surrounding the seated area.

I could tell by the speakers mounted everywhere that this was going to be a loud experience!

When the presentation started, a clay model F-150 emerged from the presentation area. Immediately, the 3D laser mapping projected on the clay model. The presentation walked us through the concept, design and build process, right through to completion and road test.

Observation Deck Tour

The third stop on the tour is the observation deck. After leaving the innovation theatre, you take a short elevator ride up 80 feet to the observation deck.

Once out of the elevator, you get an opportunity to see the best panoramic view of the Rouge complex.

You also get a great view of the living roof. Unfortunately, we had snow the day before, so the rooftops were covered in snow, blanketing much of the living roof.

The living roof is one of the largest of it’s kind, and covers the top of the Dearborn Truck Plant’s final assembly building. Although the living roof is a milestone in environmental design, there are more cool components that make up the Rouge. A naturalized habitat, porous pavement, solar arrays and energy saving photovoltaic panels round out this modern manufacturing facility in the heart of industrial America.

Assembly Plant Walking Tour

And here it is folks… the reason we are all here… the walking tour of the Dearborn Truck Plant.

There is an elevated walkway that leads around the inside perimeter of the production floor, that gives you full view of the workers building the an F-150 every minute.

Starting off as an empty shell, it works its way through a complex web of machinery, robotics, and hard working skilled-labourers, leaving as a fully tested F-150 ready for the consumer.

There are several signs and lookout points along the way, as well as videos and interactive displays, to help connect you to the building experience.

It’s amazing how up close and personal you can get to all the action on the assembly line, all while maintaining a safe and comfortable distance. Knowledgeable staff are available throughout the tour, to answer any questions you may have.

While video and photography is usually not permitted on this tour, our group was given permission to capture footage, as long as we respected the privacy of the workers and didn’t take photos of faces.

Legacy Gallery

Once the plant tour is finished, we headed down flight of stairs into the Legacy Gallery.

Greeting you as you walk in are five legendary vehicles that were assembled at the Rouge … a 1929 Model A, a ’32 Ford V8, a ’49 Coupe, a 1955 Thunderbird and a 1965 Mustang. As well, the Rouge’s latest product, the 2015 Ford F-150, makes it’s presence felt.

There’s a whole lotta history in this room… and some great photos opps!

Thinking of touring the Rouge?

Public tours are available. Tickets can be purchased at the Henry Ford Museum. Busses depart for the Rouge Factory Tour every 20 minutes from 9:20am to 3:00pm. The last bus returns to The Henry Ford at 5:00pm.

Taking the shuttles are necessary, as there is no onsite parking available at the Rouge Factory. To find out more information and ticket pricing, visit the Henry Ford website.

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.

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