Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Ford increasing production, investing money

Ford increasing production, investing money

A large robot nicknamed "Kong" lifts the body of a Ford Expedition SUV at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant as the No. 2 U.S. automaker ramps up production of two large SUV models in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., February 9, 2018.

Ford Motor Company, citing a spike in demand for its SUVs, announced on Monday that the company will be investing $25 million to boost production at its Louisville, Kentucky plant by 25%.

"Using a combination of Ford's advanced manufacturing and American hard work and ingenuity, we'll deliver more high-quality Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions to customers than originally planned". This production increase will be the result of an additional $25 million investment, bringing the total amount pledged by Ford to the facility to $925 million. The upgrade includes 400 new robots to increase manufacturing speed.

Surging customer demandLincoln dealers simply can't keep the entirely new Navigator on dealer lots; the luxury SUVs are spending an average of just seven days at the dealership before they are sold. That's because 84 percent of sales were of the high-end Reserve ($82,400 sticker) and Black Label ($96,650 sticker) trims.

In fact, Navigator sales were up triple digits in every region of the U.S. last month.

In January alone, Ford says Navigator retail sales have skyrocketed up 132 percent, with Expedition sales up nearly 57 percent.

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The Expedition - starting at $52,890, including shipping - is averaging just 11 days on dealer lots. Ford also added overtime and voluntary weekend shifts in an attempt to keep up with demand.

The 8,400 employees here build behemoths: Expeditions, Navigators and Super-Duty pickups. An enormous spare parts "vending machine" allows workers to more quickly locate a necessary part while automatically keeping inventory at optimal levels.

To be clear, the 3D printer is not producing parts for the SUVs, but it can create tools and parts for machines at the plant.

The plant employs more than 8,400 people in all, including about 8,100 full-time production workers represented by United Auto Workers Local 862.

The use of aluminum in the new Expedition/Navigator required an extensive renovation of the plant.

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