DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford Motor Company plans to resume operations and production in North America on May 18, using a phased approach amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Workers whose jobs can’t be done remotely, such as vehicle testers and designers, will start returning to work May 18. That includes about 12,000 worker sin North America, Ford officials said.
Ford’s parts distribution centers in North America will be fully operational by Monday (May 11) to support dealerships, the company said.
The reopening plan will be executed with safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Specific plant shift plans
The announcement was officially made Thursday that Ford would restart vehicle production May 18 and bring back the first wave of employees who can’t work remotely.
“We’ve been working intently with state and federal governments, our union partners and a cross-section of our workforce to reopen our North American facilities,” Ford COO Jim Farley said. “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.”
Ford’s North American parts depots will resume full operations Monday.
One week later, Ford’s North American assembly plants that were previously operating on three-shift patterns will return with two-shifts.
Most two-shift plants will return with one shift, and most one-shift plants will operate on one shift, according to Ford.
Ford officials said the Flat Rock Assembly Plant and Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario, Canada, are expected to resume production the week of May 25, with one shift.
Components plants will restart production as needed to support the plan, Ford officials said.
Employees able to do their jobs remotely will continue to do so until advised otherwise, according to the release.
The ramp-up process will be gradual, as workers need to adjust to the new health and safety protocols, and the entire supply chain needs to get up to speed, officials said.
“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 Gary Johnson, Ford’s Chief Manufacturing and Labor Officer. “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.”
Ford is implementing a staggered approach to bring back approximately 12,000 “location-dependent” employees who are can’t do their jobs remotely, including product development, IT, facilities management and more.
The staggered approach is designed to let Ford effectively implement new safety protocols and provide proper personal protective equipment for all employees as they return to work, officials said.
Ford has created a “Manufacturing Return to Work Playbook” to help workers use best practices and learn from experts around the world.
Some of the safety protocols include:
- Daily online employee and visitor health self-certifications completed before work every day. Employees or visitors who indicate they may have symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus will be told not to come to Ford facilities.
- No-touch temperature scans upon arrival. Anyone with a raised temperature will not be permitted to enter and will need to be cleared of symptoms before returning to work.
- Required face masks for everyone entering a Ford facility. Every Ford team member will be provided a care kit including face masks and other items to help keep them healthy and comfortable at work.
- Safety glasses with side shields or face shields will be required when jobs don’t allow for social distancing.
- More time between production shifts to limit interaction between employees and allow for additional cleaning.
Ford is currently producing face masks at Van Dyke Transmission Plant for use at its facilities across North America, and face shields at its Troy Design & Manufacturing facility in Plymouth.
Company-provided face masks will be required for anyone working at a Ford site, and safety glasses or face shields will be required in some instances.