Ford Claycomo workers preparing for new F-150 launch in March

In this Nov. 6 photo, the new Ford F-150 truck is assembled at the Rouge Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich.
In this Nov. 6 photo, the new Ford F-150 truck is assembled at the Rouge Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich. AP

Assembly line workers at Ford Motor Co.’s Claycomo plant are wrapping up intensive training in preparation for full-scale production next month of the new, aluminum-body F-150 pickup truck.

Ford said about 3,800 Claycomo employees have been participating in the training designed to cover everything from installing and configuring new equipment for the production line to learning a new riveting operation system and constructing the F-150’s advanced electrical controls.

“Through this program, we have armed both our skilled trade and production workers with the skills necessary to produce the next generation of vehicle technology,” said Aris Janitens, Ford’s launch planning and work force readiness manager.

Ford recently announced the addition of 900 employees at the Claycomo plant, creating a third truck-line shift that will begin rolling out F-150s for dealerships by the end of March. The company did not disclose a more specific launch date.

The boost in employment pushed the number of hourly workers at Claycomo to 6,450, the most ever at the plant, which opened in 1951 and has long been home to the top-selling F-150. Some of those hourly workers assemble the Transit commercial van, which is also a new vehicle.

Ford said the intensive F-150 training actually started at Claycomo in December 2013, and is part of the $1.1 billion investment the company has made to modernize the plant over the past several years.

The automaker’s training program was launched nearly two years ago for more than 4,000 workers at its truck plant in Dearborn, Mich. The Dearborn plant began full production of the new F-150 late last year.

Combined, the Claycomo and Dearborn plants will have the capacity to produce more than 700,000 F-150 pickups per year. In January, Ford said F-150s sat just 12 days on dealer lots — selling faster than any other Ford vehicle.

The aluminum-bodied pickup was designed to be lighter and more fuel efficient, with fuel economy ratings of 19 miles per gallon in the city, 26 miles per gallon on highways, and 22 miles per gallon combined.

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