Under a phased approach and new protocols, Ford assembly workers in the US and Canada will make a return to factories later this month
Following consultations with government and unions, Ford’s North American manufacturing operations are set to resume from Monday 18 May. Production has been suspended in the region since 20 March when coronavirus measures forced wide-scale industrial shutdowns.
The ramp-up will be gradually undertaken given workers time to get used to new protocols and the supply chain to restore momentum, Ford’s chief manufacturing and labor officer Gary Johnson explained: “We’ve developed these safety protocols in coordination with our union partners and we all know it will take time to adjust to them. We are in this together and plan to return to our normal operating patterns as soon as we are confident the system is ready to support.”
Under the phased restart, Ford’s North American parts depots will resume full activities from Monday 11 May. A week later, assembly plants that usually operating on three-shift patterns will recommence on a two-shift basis. Most two-shift plants will adopt a single-shift for the restart while most one-shift plants will retain that level.
The next notable date in the restart programme is 25 May, when Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Michigan and the Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario are expected to resume on single shifts. Ford says components plants will resume activities in full accordance with the need of the restart programme.
Ford’s chief operation officer Jim Farley explained how recent activities in the company’s global network were informing the US resumption: “We have reopened our facilities in China, successfully begun our phased restart in Europe and have been producing medical equipment in Michigan for more than six weeks. We are using the lessons from all of that to ensure we are taking the right precautions to help keep our workforce here safe.”
In keeping with other OEMs reopening assembly lines, Ford is implementing a raft of robust safety and care measures across its manufacturing settings. These range from workforce health assessment measures, personal protective equipment to facility modifications and increased social distancing.
Ford parts distribution centres will resume full operations in North America on May 11 to support Ford dealers in providing service to keep vehicles on the road.
To assist its employees through the return, a comprehensive Manufacturing Return to Work Playbook has been made available. Some of the safety protocols include:
- Daily online employee and visitor health self-certifications completed before work
- No-touch temperature scans upon arrival
- Face masks will be mandatory for everyone entering a Ford facility. Each employees will be provided with a mask and other necessary kit
- Safety glasses with side shields or face shields will be required on jobs that take employees inside usual minimum distances
- Extra time allocated between production shifts to limit crowding and enable for thorough kit cleaning