Redeveloped Ford Rouge Center To Test Environmental Concepts & Technologies

Refurbished truck plant plant featureoverhead safety walkways, day lighting, team rooms, cooler air in the summer months.

Published: 14-Nov-2000

DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Ford Rouge Center retiree Carl Ford, perched inside a large construction crane, drove in one of the steel piles for a new assembly plant at the Ford Rouge Center today, as Ford Chairman Bill Ford, government and UAW officials and more than 200 hourly and salaried Rouge employees cheered.

The gesture not only signaled the start of a new assembly plant, but also launched the redevelopment of the entire Ford Rouge Center.

"Today we are laying the groundwork to transform a 20th century industrial icon into a model of 21st century sustainable manufacturing," Bill Ford said.

Carl Ford and his brothers, Herbert and Alvin, are part of the second generation of a four-generation family that has 76 years of continuous service at the Ford Rouge Center. Their father, Roosevelt Ford, started his career at the Rouge in its foundry operations.

The new plant, called the Dearborn Truck Plant, initially will manufacture the Ford Ranger. It will dramatically reduce the space normally needed for both component and finished vehicle storage. Finished vehicle storage space will be reduced by 50 percent inside and outside the plant. This means 90 percent of the vehicles produced will be shipped the same day. Its assembly lines will be capable of handling three vehicle platforms and nine different models.

"We think the new assembly plant will provide a terrific opportunity to begin transforming one of the enduring symbols of the industrial age," said Ford CEO and President Jac Nasser. "This will be a facility designed to expand our manufacturing vision, test advanced environmental concepts, and over time become a new model for future Ford facilities."

Ford Motor Company's (NYSE: F) plans for the Ford Rouge Center encompass testing numerous advanced environmental concepts. The Dearborn Truck Plant will have the world's largest ecologically inspired living roof -- about 454,000 square feet -- that will reduce storm water runoff by holding a few inches of rainfall.

The plant will have people-friendly features such as overhead safety walkways, day lighting, team rooms, cooler air in the summer months and relaxing places to congregate. Bill McDonough, an internationally renowned architect and environmental thought leader, has worked with Ford to bring concepts of sustainability to the project.

Among the proposals being considered is reopening selected areas of the site to the public. The company is working with the Automobile National Heritage Area Partnership, which features the Ford Rouge Center in its proposed tour. The company also is working with the community-based Rouge Gateway Partnership, whose goal is environmentally responsible redevelopment in the area.

Additionally, the 83-year-old Ford Rouge Center is the site for testing:

* Phytoremediation that uses natural plants to rid soil of contaminants

* Porous paving that filters water through retention beds with 2-3 feet of compacted stones, thereby helping manage storm water runoff

* Swales, or shallow green ditches seeded with indigenous plants that will improve storm water management

* Trellises for flowering vines and other plants to shade and help cool the Rouge Office building and the new assembly plant

* Renewable energy sources such as solar cells and fuel cells

* Planting more than 1,500 trees and thousands of other plantings to attract songbirds and create habitats

About $2 billion is being invested at the Ford Rouge Center. It began when the company and the UAW recognized the need to work together on modernization and signed the Rouge Viability Agreement in 1997. Completed projects include significant upgrades at the Dearborn Engine and Fuel Tank and Dearborn Stamping plants and a new frame line in the Dearborn Frame Plant.

Ford Rouge Center occupies 600 acres of the original 1,100-acre complex. The remainder is occupied by steel operations that Ford sold to Rouge Steel in 1989.

A new paint shop -- currently supporting the Dearborn Assembly Plant -- will be used with the new facility. It has world-class, water-based primer and base coat paint systems and a high-solids clear coat system. Together with advanced abatement equipment, the new shop has significantly reduced emissions while maintaining high-quality standards.

The M-TEC training center, a partnership among government agencies, organized labor, business and education, is planned for a nearby five-acre site, formerly the locale of the Ford Rotunda.

The project depends upon completion of negotiations for local and county incentives.

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