It is a new world for the Ram employees, returning to build 2020 Ram 1500s. The plants are back open but the employees have new work rules as they try to build the vehicles and stay safe from COVID-19 at the same time. The truck plants in Warren and Sterling Heights, Michigan reopened for one shift daily, this week. Other shifts may be added, in a couple of weeks, if the employees are able to keep the Coronavirus at bay.
Reopening Ram 1500 Plants a Priority
As Fiat Chrysler works to bring its plants on line, it is clear building their 2020 Ram 1500s is a top priority. The company provided photos of the inside of the Warren Truck plant, which builds the older or Classic version of the popular 2020 Ram 1500. Both versions of the profitable 2020 Ram 1500 trucks were in high demand before the virus forced the plants to close and the automaker is hoping to rekindle that demand as quickly as possible.
Also, the automaker is hoping to produce as many trucks as possible, in case the virus spikes and causes more closings down the road. The strategy is the same for both General Motors and Ford. All of the Detroit Three are focusing on ramping up the profitable truck production as quickly as possible. Ram insiders were not able to tell me how many orders they have for the trucks just that both plants are considered a priority at this point.
Restarting the Ram Plants Appears Successful
Fiat Chrysler is pleased with how well the first day went with the first shift back on the line. The company released this statement. “After welcoming back nearly 12,000 employees to our U.S. manufacturing facilities today, we successfully resumed production of our award-winning vehicles under a comprehensive, multi-layered program of health and safety measures designed with the single purpose of safeguarding employees.
We were pleased with today’s restart. Everyone followed the new protocols and our plants were fully staffed to start production. We expected nothing less from FCA's incredible employees. We are very confident that we have all the right protection measures in place to keep them all safe.
We also want to thank our dedicated team of employees whose leadership and ingenuity helped prepare our facilities for today’s successful restart.”
In all, Fiat Chrysler has 15,100 employees working this week, with 11,700 in the U.S., and another 3,400 in Canada.
New Health and Safety Protocols
Workers who returned to the plants today had to fill out health assessments, and their temperatures were checked by thermal imaging cameras. They will have to go through the same checks every day. The company will provide the masks, gloves and eye protection, required for their jobs. The first ten minutes of their shift will be dedicated to cleaning their work station and equipment.
The company is also increasing the cleaning and disinfecting for common and high traffic areas, including turnstiles, restrooms, cafeterias, locker rooms and conference rooms. Those schedules were worked out with the UAW. They are also staggering the start times, breaks and lunches so workers won’t have to gather at the same times. Hand sanitizer is placed in several areas around the plant.
Any workers with fevers or symptoms will be referred for immediate testing. FCA will send employees who are tested home until they are medically cleared to return to work. Employees will get paid during a 14-day quarantine ordered by a doctor.
Insiders tell me it will take at least several weeks to build up to the same productions level that they had before the virus caused the plants to shut down two months ago.
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