Ford to Restart North American Manufacturing May 18
Ford Motor Company on Friday confirmed that it will restart North American manufacturing and operations on May 18. The relaunch will take place in phases, including bringing more plants online on May 25 and gradually ramping up production to full capacity over the weeks ahead.
Beginning next Friday, Ford will reopen nine key plants in North America: Chicago Assembly, Dearborn Truck, Kansas City Assembly, Kentucky Truck, Louisville Assembly, Michigan Assembly, Ohio Assembly, Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly, and Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly. This wave of restarts allows Ford to go back to producing several key vehicles including the Ford F-150, Explorer, Ranger, and upcoming Mustang Mach-E.
As part of the ramp-up process, Ford says that plants will generally start with one fewer shift — three-shift plants will start at two shifts, two-shift plants will mostly start at one shift, and one-shift plants will mostly resume normal operations.
The following week, on May 25, Ford will reopen Flat Rock Assembly — which builds the Ford Mustang and Lincoln Continental — and Oakville Assembly — which builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus. Both plants will start up with one shift.
To prepare for this, Ford will reopen its North American parts depots on Monday and plans to restart components plants on an as-needed basis.
“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 and are using the lessons from all of that to ensure we are taking the right precautions to help keep our workforce here safe,” said Ford COO Jim Farley.
New safety protocols going into practice at facilities
To ensure the health and safety of its employees, the phased approach also applies to the number of employees coming back. Ford says that it will stagger the return of 12,000 location-dependent employees unable to work remotely and require all returning employees to follow safety protocols. This includes the use of personal protective equipment provided by the automaker and submitting to a daily health certification and contactless temperature scan. Ford will also provide more time between shifts to limit interaction and provide time to clean and sanitize the facilities.
Employees who are able to work remotely are still being encouraged to do so until further notice.
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“We’ve developed these safety protocols in coordination with our union partners, especially the UAW, and we all know it will take time to adjust to them,” said Ford Chief Manufacturing and Labor Officer Gary Johnson. “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.”
Despite the move to reopen plants, the coronavirus pandemic appears far from over. Approximately 25,700 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1.29 million and accounting for more than one-third of all confirmed cases globally.