DEARBORN, Mich. (WJBK) - With its eye-popping visuals, laser lights and heart-pumping soundtrack, you can't help but feel immersed when you watch the dramatic interpretation of how the Ford F-150 is made during your tour at the River Rouge factory.
The Rouge factory started out as just an idea in 1915 when Henry Ford first purchased the property. Obessed with efficiency, he bought a 2,000 acre stretch right along the Rouge River.
Finally, in 1921, production of the world's first mass-produced vehicle - a tractor called the Fordson - started rolling off this first version of the assembly line, which used to involve a person pulling the vehicle down the line.
"What it did at that time was that it brought all parts. Henry Ford could have all his parts come to this site, because we're located on a river, so they can come by boat. He had everything come to this facility, which he couldn't do at the Hamtramack plants. So that was something that was innovative at the time," says Doug Plond.
In 1927, the long-awaited introduction of the model a took center stage
"It took them 72 hours to build one Model A. That's pretty impressive for the amount of effort thay had to put through. They didn't have the modernization, but physically, men were pulling them on the boat. Technology didnt exist at that time," Plond says.
The Rouge was seeing success.
But, the plant's main mission took a turn at the start of World War II in 1939.
"World War II, we switched; we went to war. We made the Jeeps and the eagle boats for the war, so we stopped producing vehicles here. And we went right into the public to fight the war. That's when Rosie the Riveter came on board. The women came in and took over for the men, as a lot of men were seized to fight in the war," Plond says.
Today, about 6,000 Ford employees work at the Rouge. Now called the Ford Rouge Center, the 600 acre site is still Ford Motor Company's largest single industrial complex. And now a self-guided tour offers everyone a chance to see the Motor City magic take place at the Rouge.
"It's different that they get to witness the history of the Ford Motor company, and they get to see the assembly line. And then they get to go into innovation, they get to see the innovation with the truck being built, they get the wow factor. They actually get to see the F-150 being built. So they get a little bit of both of the history aspect, to the current day of what's being produced in the F-150," Plond says.
Everday the Rouge cranks out 1,300 F-150s. That's about one a minute.
The tour really take you on a ride from manufacturing past, present and the future. Even notice how the tools and positioning of the trucks are adapted to the workers.
"Technology's changed because a lot of it is urbanomic elated now. So they have in their stations a lot of the stuff comes up to meet their demand. Bodies are not moving different ways physically. There's computerized systems at each station to control whats being done," Plond says.
If you stop by the Rouge on any given day, you'll find spectators from all over.
For more information, visit www.thehenryford.org.