Last week, Ford Authority reported that North American Ford production was expected to resume, in a limited capacity, on May 18th. Today, Ford confirmed that it is, in fact, targeting a phased restart for its operations in North America beginning May 18th, including restarting vehicle production and bringing back the first wave of employees that are not able to do their jobs remotely.
As part of this phased restart, North American Ford parts depots will resume full operations on Monday, May 11th. Then on May 18th, Ford’s North American Ford production plants previously operating on three-shift patterns will return with two shifts. Most two-shift plants will return on one shift, and most one-shift plants will operate on one shift.
Two plants – Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan and Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ontario, Canada – will not return to work on May 18th. Instead, they will resume production the week of May 25th on one shift – one week behind the remaining Ford North American facilities. Components plants will restart production as needed to support this plan.
“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,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s chief operating officer. “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.”
European Ford facilities reopened on May 4th, and the automaker’s new safety initiatives and protocols are reportedly working perfectly so far in those plants. The same protocols will be in place when North American Ford production plants reopen on May 18th as well.
“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.”
Outside of production and plant operations, Ford is also implementing a staggered approach to bringing back approximately 12,000 “location-dependent” employees who are not able to do their jobs remotely. These jobs include those in product development, IT, facilities management, and several others. The staggered approach allows Ford to effectively implement new safety protocols and provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for all employees as they return to work.
Ford is currently producing face masks at its Van Dyke Transmission Plant for use at its facilities across North America. In addition, face shields are being produced at the Troy Design & Manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Michigan. Company-provided face masks will be required for anyone working at a Ford site, while safety glasses or face shields will be required in some instances.
By producing face masks and face shields, Ford is helping reduce demand on stretched supply chains for personal protection equipment also needed by medical services and other industries. The first delivery of respirators to medical personnel in Seattle, Washington, was shipped just yesterday.
Meanwhile, Ford employees who are able to do their jobs from home will continue to do so until advised otherwise.
We’ll be following Ford’s reopening process closely and will report back as soon as we have more, so be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford-related COVID-19 news, Ford business news, Ford production news, and 24/7 Ford news coverage.