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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Monday is a big day for Ford, in Louisville and around the world, as the company celebrates the 100th anniversary of the invention of the assembly line.
An assembly line using interchangeable parts was the brainchild of Henry Ford. Now, 100 years later, it remains the standard for mass production of automobiles.
At the Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road, Ford Escapes roll off the line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Amy Pope is the Parts Control Manager, and she's in charge of all the parts involved in building the Escapes, and there are a lot. "There's approximately 2,800 different parts that go into making the Ford Escape, from approximately 500 different suppliers, most of them within the United States," she says.
Pope, a Louisville native who lives in the Highlands, has been with Ford for 18 years.
She says in that time, the business has "changed completely from the way we produce our vehicles to the way we handle our inventory."
Sales of the Escape remain strong, and Pope says "we're here to stay for the long term."
Plant Manager Daryl Sykes is relatively new to Louisville, but not to Ford. He's been with the company for 20 years. He explained the significance of the assembly line.
"The moving assembly line allows for mass production," Sykes said. "We wouldn't be able to make the beautiful brand new Ford Escape without the assembly line concept. We're basically producing at a rate of about 370,000 vehicles a year. That is the cornerstone of the moving assembly line."
Sykes also addressed talk about the possibility of the Louisville Assembly Plant producing another vehicle.
"We're currently maxed out on our current Escape production," Sykes said. "But most important, we have the ability, through our flexible assembly process, to build up to six or seven vehicles, but we're maxed out now with the new Escape."
Sykes says a new Escape rolls off the line at the rate of one every 48 seconds.
The Louisville Assembly Plant employs 4,000 people, and another 4,000 employees work at the Kentucky Truck Plant.
Steve Stone has worked for Ford in Louisville for 40 years. He is now the UAW building chairman at the Louisville Assembly Plant. He says, "We have grown from 1100 employees to 4400, which has also had a ripple effect on the whole economy of Jefferson County and the state of Kentucky."
In an industry that was faltering only a few short years ago, Ford has a lot to be thankful for.