Friday, January 21, 2011

Ford Rouge factory

Our last week in Canton MI. We were busy purchasing things which our children had ordered. Bhanu’s credit card was wearing thin. Whatever we were buying could very well have been bought back home. Only, I would have had to pay myself. My children do not agree. They insist that it is not the glamour of ‘imported’ tag but the quality. They say that the same brand bought in India is not really same. Our suitcases appear full but weigh much less than the limit. Still lot of scope for shopping. In my opinion the only sensible purchase were the cans of shaving foam. A can of foam costs between 150 -200 rs in India and I got two for one dollar and twenty nine cents at Target.

There was still one ‘sightseeing’ pending. ‘The Henry Ford’, which includes a tour of the Rouge Factory which builds Ford trucks, Ford auto Museum and the Greenfield Village. It is located in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, almost on the way to Vishwa’s office. Since he could drop us there any day on the way to work and pick us up again on his way back, we took it easy and it remained till the last week. As it could not be put off anymore, we decided to visit Henry Ford on Thursday.

Vishwa booked the tickets online and dropped us in front of the reception at nine in the morning. The museum and the green field village are next to each other but the Rouge Factory is at a distance. They have a shuttle service between the museum and the factory. The bus was to leave in ten minutes. We arrived at the factory by half past nine.

The Rouge complex is on the banks of the Rouge river and at the height of its activity it had its own dock yard to unload iron ore, power plant, ore processing unit and the car factory - converting ore into cars in one single complex.

After the usual introductory talk and film shows showing the beginning of the factory and its journey, we went round the assembly line. It was a great experience to see the actual production, following the assembly line. There is an elevated walk way running by the side of the assembly line and there were displays at every stage which explained what exactly was happening below. The factory was building their popular model F 150 truck at the time and we could see both the humans and robots in action. The humans were almost robots. If they take half a minute off to scratch an itchy leg or back, one truck would go out without a wiper or a headlight. We spent about an hour around the production line and took the next bus back.

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