The Ford Rouge Factory at FordNAIAS

The Ford Rouge Factory was impressive, to say the least. As a part of the FordNAIAS digital summit day 2 began with an overwhelming experience of history and education.

The Ford Rouge Factory produces the F150, and used to also manufacture Model A’s, Thunderbirds and Mustangs.

Ford Rouge Factory - 1965 Mustang

Henry Ford designed the assembly plant to automate the process of building Model T’s and cut production time from 12 hours by a team of workers for each car. He wanted to make cars available to the masses. The best way to make them affordable was to reduce the time it took to produce them. After studying other assembly plants he came up with a system that reduced production time to 98 minutes per car! Today the plant manufactures F150’s from raw materials to finished product, eliminating the wait time associated with parts being ordered/delivered, etc.

From start to finish, the F150 is created from raw materials in 40 hours! It spends 6 hours on the assembly line, which is a masterpiece in itself. Thanks to a strong union/company relationship work stations are designed to be customized to the worker with the ability to elevate the platforms and more. Walking around the assembly plant walkway above, I was amazed by the condition of the workspace. Clean as can be, without any off gasses to be detected…

Ford has thought of everything, making the plant tour interactive, educational and fun.

Ford Rouge Factory

A visit to the observation deck allowed an opportunity to view and learn about the incredible living roof system designed ten years ago to recover the environment around the plant. Recirculating the water back into the environment, feeding man-made ponds, gardens and even an orchard – the cleanup is really spectacular. From a plant that had a heavy cloud hanging over it < quite literally > to clear skies and the largest living roof in the world, spanning multiple football fields worth of sedum.

DSC_1184 Ford Rouge Factory observation deck

A film of the life of Henry Ford and development of the Ford Motor Company shares fascinating details about how the Ford Motor Company got it’s start. It includes details about Henry Ford’s resistance to the union, which inevitably was formed and became a strong contribution to the health of the company.

From the 3 screen Legacy Theatre, we moved to the panoramic, multi-screen, multi-sensory theatre that requires swiveling seating in order to capture the full experience of the Art of Manufacturing. This film walked us through every aspect of car and truck manufacturing from raw materials to finished painted & polished vehicle. The music the film is set to is performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. From wind, heat, sound and vibration, this is a fantastic experience.

I heard it said that a gentleman custom ordered a truck, got his VIN and attended the plant to request  viewing of its production. He was informed it was scheduled to be on the line the following day, and allowed to return to the plant and follow his truck through the assembly line! We don’t really think about everything involved in the production of our cars, we just get in and turn the key. I’m willing to bet this gentleman never sells his truck.

Photo Courtesy of @FordCraigSilva

After seeing the precision involved in the assembly of the F150 I was in awe considering what went into the design of the plant to begin with – to lay that out step by step, then physically design it would have required significant time & energy. I asked what sort of time is involved in refitting the plant for changes to models. And was told minor changes can be made on the fly but for major changes, like those the F150 underwent 4 years ago, the plant was shut down for about two weeks.

What impressed me more than anything was to realize the family connection that has been retained. Even with a company of this size and duration, family ties remain. Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company , is the great-grandson on Henry Ford who founded the company in 1903.

The Ford Rouge Factory tour is just another site worth seeing in the fascinating Detroit/Motor City.


For Day 1 of the FordNAIAS digital summit, click here

A recap of the rest of Day 2 can be found here

To read about the unveiling of the Ford Atlas at the Ford NAIAS click here

To read the FordNAIAS Wrapup click here

My travel and expenses to the Ford Digital Summit were covered by Ford, however I was not compensated in anyway for my time or this post. Opinions expressed are my own.


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About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two

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11 years ago

I never really thought of that, it really would be fun to see your car being made and drive it right out of the factory! 

11 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer

If I ever buy a new car again and have the means to custom order, I am SO doing it! 😀


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