Some of you may remember my visit to Ford’s research lab back in 2012, where I learned about the innovations and technologies that go into Ford’s present day vehicles. As part of the itinerary for this year’s Ford NAIAS Digital Summit, I was thrilled to find out that I’d be touring manufacturing facilities from both past and present day.
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Our trip began at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, which served as Ford’s production facility from 1904-1910. It was in this very building that Ford assembled the famous Model T, along with 6 other early models. During this time, Henry Ford revolutionized the car manufacturing process by introducing assembly line production, which made cars affordable and accessible to common middle-class Americans. In 1908, the first Model T rolled off the assembly line, and it forever changed the world.
— Dennis Pang (@DennisPang) January 12, 2015
In a building steeped with history, we mingled with 150+ bloggers who had been flown in from around the world. New friendships were forged as we shared stories, drank and enjoyed a delicious dinner.
In an interesting discussion, Ford Futurist Sheryl Connelly and Manager of Ford’s North American Archives, Dean Weber talked briefly about the history of Ford over the past century, and offered glimpses into what the future holds for the great American car company.
We were able to see all the different vehicles that were manufactured at this plant. They were all beautifully restored, and you could really get a sense of how much thought, care and attention went into the construction of these classic automobiles.
A 1912 Flanders 20 Roadster (above), which interestingly enough was produced by Walter Flanders, the ex-production boss at this plant. When he left Ford, he wanted to introduce a car of his own that would compete with the new Ford Model T. It never really panned out that way, as his sales fell considerably short.
Ford Rouge Factory Tour
On our last day, we had the opportunity to visit the Ford Rouge Center, which is an industrial park comprised of 6 Ford factories sitting on 600 acres. The plant that we visited was the one where the Ford Model A was produced in 1928. Back then, it used to take a team of men 12 hours to assemble one vehicle. Today, over a century later, this factory has been completely transformed and is now the production plant for Ford’s award-winning F-150 truck. It’s crazy to think that with modern day manufacturing processes, they’re now able to roll trucks off the assembly line at a rate of one per minute. This complex really embodies the spirit of industrial America, which is evidently still alive and well in Motor City.
Tours of the factory began in 1924 and ran until 1980, and were offered once again starting in 2004 in cooperation with The Henry Ford Museum. In addition to walking around the immense factory floor, where we saw hundreds of people hard at work on the floor drilling, bolting, and installing various parts of the trucks, we also enjoyed a couple of short multimedia presentations inside their theatres.
One short film featured the story of Ford, from Henry Ford’s humble beginnings and early innovations, to Ford’s rise in the modern automotive world. We also enjoyed a dynamic presentation complete with lasers, smoke, and robotic arms, showing off the manufacturing process of the Ford F-150, from start to finish. It was really quite an impressive and dazzling show.
If you’re a car or history enthusiast, then you won’t want to miss these two attractions, which are both open to the public throughout the year. For more information on The Henry Ford’s attractions and exhibits, be sure to visit their website. Stay tuned for additional Pangcouver coverage of the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).