Ford to ramp up production of Expedition, Navigator SUVs at Kent - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ford to ramp up production of Expedition, Navigator SUVs at Kentucky Truck Plant

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The paint shop at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville (Ford image) The paint shop at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville (Ford image)
Ford said it would install 400 more robots at Kentucky Truck Plant in 2018 (Ford image) Ford said it would install 400 more robots at Kentucky Truck Plant in 2018 (Ford image)
Andrew Tapp, plant manager at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant, Feb. 11, 2018 Andrew Tapp, plant manager at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant, Feb. 11, 2018

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ford Motor Co. said it's putting another $25 million into Kentucky Truck Plant to be able to churn out up to 25 percent more Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs in response to strong sales.

"The turnaround is really high, so we have a lot of dealers clambering for it. They're only lasting about seven days on the lot," Kentucky Truck Plant manager, Andrew Tapp said. 

The increased investment comes on top of $900 million in assembly line changes made last year to produce the overhauled 2018 model Expedition and Navigator.

Like Ford'd F-150 and Super Duty trucks, the bodies of the Expedition and Navigator are now made primarily of aluminum instead of steel, shedding hundreds of pounds from the vehicles' weight.

"We were a little bit conservative when we went in to launch the product, but it's being accepted really well," Tapp said. 

The $25 million in investments include 400 more robots, which perform ergonomically difficult tasks on the assembly line; a new 3D printer, which allows Ford to print its own parts for tools; and enhanced data analytics to track hourly production targets. 

"One of the things it takes to drive the robots is we have a lot of skilled trades," Tapp said. We have "a lot of highly skilled electricians, the best in the business, that are required to operate all this machinery and tooling."

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 plant's biggest product is the Super Duty pickup truck (F-250 to F-550). 

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