DETROIT -- Production of the redesigned, aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 has been slowed by a shortage of frames from a supplier's plant in Kentucky, according to workers and a UAW official.
Ford has canceled some planned overtime at the two plants that build the pickup and sent workers there home early multiple times in the past few months, they say.
"Demand for our F-150 is sky high. Frames continue to hold both truck plants back from running overtime days on the weekend," Todd Hillyard, bargaining chairman of Ford's Kansas City, Mo., plant with UAW Local 249, wrote on Facebook on Friday, May 29.
The F-150 frames come from a plant in Elizabethtown, Ky., owned by Metalsa S.A. de C.V., a Mexican company that bought Dana Corp.'s structural products business in 2010.
A worker at Ford's Dearborn, Mich., plant, who didn't want to be identified discussing internal business, said the problem has prevented the plant from running any "Super Sunday" shifts, when workers earn double their usual pay rate. The worker said a team of Ford employees is at the Metalsa plant to help resolve the issue.
Two other workers at the Dearborn plant said the frame shortages and reduced shifts have been ongoing for several months.
Ford had planned to cancel Saturday's overtime shift at the Kansas City plant because it lacked enough Metalsa-supplied frames, Hillyard wrote. The Dearborn plant has canceled "several super days already" for the same reason, he added.
Hillyard wrote in an April 1 post that both F-150 plants "have had a few shifts canceled due to a frame supplier not being able to keep up." In that post, he said Ford had told the UAW that it hoped "to have the issue resolved after the Easter weekend." Easter was April 5.
Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski declined to directly address questions from Automotive News about the frame shortages earlier this month and again on Friday.
"We are producing the all-new F-150 at full production at Dearborn Truck Plant and will be at full production this quarter at our Kansas City Assembly Plant," Ford wrote in an emailed statement on Friday identical to one it provided Automotive News on May 12.
Officials at Metalsa and UAW Local 3047, which represents workers at the Elizabethtown plant, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Metalsa invested $70 million last year to expand the plant by 91,000 square feet, according to Kentucky economic development officials.
Ford began building the 2015 F-150 in November in Dearborn and several months later in Kansas City. The model changeover has kept supplies of the truck tight, with April being the first month that the redesigned version accounted for at least half of the F-150's retail sales.
Ford said the Dearborn plant completed its ramp-up in January. The company produced 29,373 F-150s last month, 9.2 percent fewer than in April 2014, according to the Automotive News Data Center. The Kansas City plant, which resumed F-150 production in March after more than $1 billion in improvements, produced 20,602 trucks in April, 28 percent fewer than the same month a year ago.
Total F-series sales -- including Super Duty trucks -- declined 0.9 percent in April and are up 1.4 percent on the year so far. Ford had a 77-day supply of all classes of F-series trucks as of May 1, up from 68 a month earlier, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Larry P. Vellequette contributed to this report.