Ford F-Series Plants Facing Production Stoppage Due to Supplier Fire

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Massive blaze at a Michigan stamping factory could cause a standstill.

On May 2, a massive fire ripped through the Meridian Magnesium Products factory in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. That plant produced magnesium components for Ford, General Motors and FCA, and with the Meridian plant shut down, assembly of those affected vehicles will come to a stop. According to the Detroit Free Press, this could effectively halt all Ford truck production.

The Big Fire

Magnesium is incredibly flammable, so firefighters had a difficult time stopping the blaze at Meridian Magnesium Products, leading to extensive damage to the facility. Meridian makes stamped magnesium chassis components for the current Ford F-150, F-250 and F-350. During the stamping process, excess materials are sent into a furnace where they are melted down for reuse, but on May 2nd, a fire broke out near that furnace. The fire quickly spread throughout the facility as the flammable metal ignited.

For example, modern Ford F-Series pickups have a magnesium radiator core support, among other things. Without these magnesium components, production at all of the Ford truck plants cannot continue, so until Meridian is back online or until the Motor Company finds another magnesium stamping company – a rarity in the industry – production of the F-150 and Super Duty pickups will be limited.

Production Stoppages

The Kansas City plant where the F-150 is built was the first to be shut down, with the production stopping earlier this week. The Super Duty facilities in Kentucky was the next to stop building trucks, but that plant has continued to build the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator.

The Dearborn plant continued the assembly process of F-150 pickups with the final magnesium units available in stock through the afternoon of May 9th, but once those components were gone, the Metro Detroit plant shut down as well.

To get an idea of the impact of this production stoppage, consider this. In April 2018, the Kansas City plant built nearly 30,000 trucks and the Dearborn plant built roughly 31,500. This means that the two plants combine to build more than 2,000 trucks each day, so for every week that those plants are down – not counting the Super Duty production in Kentucky – Ford is losing well over 10,000 units of production of the bestselling vehicle in the US market.

Fortunately, the company has roughly 84 days worth of F-Series inventory, but if this supplier issue continues for very long, Ford could be some impact on the sales charts.

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Patrick Rall is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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