Yesterday we had the opportunity to tour the Ford Rouge Factory where the F150 trucks are made. The Rouge Factory was built in 1917 and first produced the Model A. The factory was unique at the time in that basic raw materials such as iron ore came into the factory at one end and finished cars came out the other end. Over the years the factory declined and it was nearly closed at one point. However, a few years ago Ford decided to rebuild it as an ultra-modern factory and to serve as a model for future factories. They not only rebuilt the factory but also built it to LEED standards for energy efficiency and used green sustainable techniques. For example, the roof of the factory is a living roof where it is covered by living plants. This not only protects the roof enabling it to last over 50 years but it provides significant insulation which reduces operating costs. Likewise, the walls are covered by vines for insulation. This factory shows that building green can make business sense.
The tour is self paced as you walk around a cat walk above the production floor and you can watch the production as long as you like. Above the cat walk were conveyors that deliver the larger parts to the work stations. One thing that was amazing is that the assembly line was full of many different F150 models and colors but yet the correct parts were installed on each vehicle. Flexibility is one of the main features of the factory so it can adapt to production needs. They also proved a multi-sensory movie that shows the complete build process. The movie was very good. When the video on the screen was showing a stamping press making body panels the floor would shake in time with the press. When they were welding you could smell the welding smoke. Likewise, when they were showing rain testing of the trucks you could feel the cold mist blowing in your face. Unfortunately photos were not allowed in the production area.
View of the factory from the observation deck
View of the roof. The green and red surfaces in the photo are living plants.
Car gallery in the plant lobby
After the factory tour we went to the Henry Ford Museum. They have a huge collection of life in America. You could easily spend a full day or two in the museum. Some of their collections are trains, cars, presidential limousines, Rosa Parks Bus, and much more.
Entrance to the Museum
The Reagan Limo. They also have the Roosevelt and Kennedy Limos
No visit to Ann Arbor would be complete without a photo of the beautiful flowers.
Tomorrow we are off to Franklin Indiana.