Why Ford Flew an 87,000-Pound Die from Michigan to England


A few weeks back, Ford and other major auto brands made headlines when a supplier fire impacted production of key models by forcing plant shutdowns due to related part shortages.

For Ford’s part, the model in question was the F-150, the company’s flagship truck. You may not know this, but the F-150 is the most popular model produced by any automaker in the last forty years, which means Ford was not messing around when this supplier fire limited access to cast components and threatened its bread-and-butter profit center.

Well, the shutdown ended quietly after less than two weeks when a plant in Nottingham, England took on the parts processing – not to mention, Ford reportedly had enough sales inventory to cover the gap.

But this side of the story doesn’t tell just how much frenzied scrambling-around the automaker had to do, behind the scenes, to get back online before the loss of the F-150 could cut into their Q2 profits.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford chartered an Antonov An-124 – one of the largest cargo planes in the world – and literally flew an 87,000 pound die from Eaton Rapids, Michigan to Nottingham. The Russian cargo planes are most often used for military applications and can carry items of more than 82 feet, including train cars and boats.

All in all, Ford moved 19 dies across the pond and has been since shipping back completed parts daily on a Boeing 747 until things get back to normal. And while this sounds like an expensive endeavor, not fixing the problem would have been more costly – Detroit’s Free Press says the F-150 is worth $40 billion to Ford.

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