The rumors are true! We had heard for a while that Ford would start up production at their manufacturing plants by May 18, pending approval by the United Auto Workers. Ford confirmed a phased restart for its North America operations beginning May 18, including restarting vehicle production in North America and bringing back the first wave of employees that are not able to do their jobs remotely.
Of course, robust safety and care measures have been implemented globally to support a safe and healthy environment for the company’s workforce with health assessment measures, personal protective equipment and facility modifications to increase social distancing. This will become the new normal, as the saying goes, for the foreseeable future for Ford employees.
It couldn’t come at a better time as Ford, like all other auto manufacturers, has been financially reeling from fallout from the corona virus pandemic. Ford was losing an estimated $158 million each day that the factories weren’t producing vehicles.
As such, as I reported, Ford posted a 13.1 percent drop in sales for the best-selling F-150 in the first quarter. When second-quarter numbers are released, things will likely be just as bleak. So getting Ford’s four truck assembly plants back up is imperative for Ford’s success.
As I reported, there was a looming shortage of 2020 F-150s on car lots throughout the country. Supplies were getting low, while demand hasn’t really waned. Thanks in part to the zero-percent interest and long-term loans available.
Last week I wrote a story that said: Getting America Back To Starts With The Ford F-150. And the numbers don’t lie. The four plants that produce the F-Series employ 19,000 people plus another 2,000+ suppliers for an estimated $50 billion in global sales. So thank goodness those 19,000 people can get back to work – safely.
Ford North America Return To Work Dates
These are the following plants along with the products they produce and their return to work date, according to Ford.
Chicago Assembly – Ford Explorer, Police Interceptor Utility, Lincoln Aviator – May 18
Dearborn Truck – Ford F-150 and F-150 Raptor – May 18
Kansas City Assembly – Ford F-150, Transit – May 18
Kentucky Truck – Ford F-250, F-550, Expedition, Lincoln Navigator – May 18
Louisville Assembly – Ford Escape, Lincoln Corsair – May 18
Michigan Assembly – Ford Ranger – May 18
Ohio Assembly – Ford F-650/750, Ford F-350/450/550 Super Duty Chassis Cab, E-Series – May 18
Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly – Ford Mustang Mach-E – May 18
Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly – Ford Fusion, Police Interceptor Sedan, Lincoln MKZ – May 18
Flat Rock Assembly – Ford Mustang, Shelby GT350, Lincoln Continental – May 25
Oakville Assembly – Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus – May 25
Additionally, Ford parts distribution centers will resume full operations in North America on May 11 to support Ford dealers in providing service to keep vehicles on the road. Components plants will restart production as needed to support this plan.
Ford’s Extensive Safety Precautions To Ensure A Safe Working Environment
In order to protect employees from COVID-19, Ford worked with UAW representation to come up with a plan that ensures proper social distancing protocol along with proper personal protective equipment as well as other safety procedures.
“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.”
The ramp-up process will be gradual as workers adjust to the new health and safety protocols and the entire supply chain comes up to speed.
“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 not able to do their jobs remotely, encompassing functions including product development, IT, facilities management and more. 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 also created a safe Return To Work playbook for employees. The safety protocols on this plan 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.
• There will be more time between production shifts to limit interaction between employees and allow for additional cleaning.
It’s great to see the plants start back up. 2020 and leading to the 2021 model year is such a vital time for Ford Motor Company. Between a new-generation F-150 for the 2021 model year, the Mustang Mach-E and the development of Ford’s first-ever hybrid F-150, there’s plenty of work to be done for Ford’s thousands of employees. Kudos to them for working with the union to develop a comprehensive safety plan for production to begin, but to do so that is safe for their employees.
Let’s get this economy going again and start putting this pandemic in the rear view mirror.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.