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2020 Ford Explorer Production At Chicago Assembly Factory

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Inside the Ford plant on Chicago’s south side, it’s difficult to recognize that it is the company’s oldest continuously producing plant. A nearly $1 billion investment and 500 additional jobs have completely transformed this plant into a high-tech facility entrusted with building a new version of America’s best-selling SUV over the last 29 years – the Ford Explorer.

Ford announced the $1 billion investment in its Chicago Assembly and Stamping plants and 500 new jobs earlier this year. A strong Chicago workforce – boosted with new technology in the Chicago Assembly Plant – is building Ford’s all-new Explorer lineup, Police Interceptor Utility vehicles and all-new Lincoln Aviator.

The plant changeover took one month – a company record for an all-new vehicle build.

Ford replaced outdated machines with advanced manufacturing technology – including two 3D printers at the plant. The Chicago team stripped the body shop down to the concrete floor and completely rebuilt it – adding 600 new robots. The team updated the paint shop, too, and modified nearly every operator workstation in the final assembly area.

The plant now also features a collaborative robot with a camera that inspects electrical connections during the manufacturing process.

The new production line also uses several 3D printed tools and nearly 500 new error-proofing tools to help employees build these new SUVs with even higher quality for customers.

Ford also invested $40 million for employee-centered improvements to make the plant a better place to work, including all-new LED lighting, cafeteria updates, new break areas and security upgrades in the parking lot.

The company also added team break rooms on the plant floor, which is important to employees on the line who work on their feet all day. With 30-minute breaks, they used to spend 10 minutes walking to and from an area in which they could relax. Now they can take full advantage of their entire break period.

Approximately 5,000 people work at Chicago Assembly Plant, including approximately 4,800 hourly employees. Approximately 1,200 people work at Chicago Stamping Plant including approximately 1,100 hourly employees.

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