The plant shutdown in Missouri lasted only an hour and Ford completed production for the day. But the closure is a sign of the difficulty of building cars while protecting workers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The safety of our employees is our top priority,” said Ford in a statement. “In this case, our protocol requires us to thoroughly clean and disinfect the employees’ work area, equipment, team area and the route taken by the employee to the factory. “
The worker added trim to the Transit pickup, one of two factory-built vehicles with the F-150 pickup. Most of Transit’s assembly line continued to operate while the area was cleaned up. The F-150 assembly line was not affected.
Ford (( rivals )General Motors (( and )Fiat Chrysler (( The two confirmed on Wednesday that workers at their factories have tested positive for Covid-19 since work resumed. But they said the cases did not require a work stoppage under the safety protocols they put in place. The response to each positive test case is considered on a case-by-case basis, said GM spokesman Jim Cain. )
At Fiat Chrysler, once an employee has tested positive for Covid-19, “our comprehensive, multi-layered safety measures of social distancing, mandatory use of personal protective equipment and cleaning and disinfection are fully used, “said Fiat Chrysler spokesperson Jodi Tinson. . “These protocols are the most effective way to create a safe and secure work environment for all of our employees. “
Several non-union automakers, including Volkwagen, Honda and Hyundai, said they have not had to close their US factories since construction resumed. Volkswagen said two employees have tested positive for Covid-19 since production resumed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on May 17.
Hyundai said factory workers at its Montgomery, Alabama, plant, which tested positive, did not return to work, so operations were not interrupted. The city of Montgomery has been hit hard by the pandemic in recent weeks.
Virtually every auto plant in the world has been closed for a long time due to the pandemic, but most have now resumed work. The three work stoppages at Ford plants show that the resumption of production in the auto plants will not be smooth, said David Leggett, automotive analyst at GlobalData.
“Automakers around the world face similar problems as they restart shutdown manufacturing facilities when the Covid-19 is locked out,” he said. “Even though the peaks of infection in the first wave of Covid-19 have been passed, the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and new outbreaks can disrupt activity. “
The Ford plant in Chicago, which shutdown a week after positive tests for two employees, had to close briefly a day later when one of its suppliers, Lear ((, had a positive test in their own factory. Ford also closed its Dearborn truck assembly plant last week after a worker tested positive there. )
“The supply chain is ultimately only as strong as its weakest link,” added Leggett. “Any disruption of manufacturing companies along the supply chain around the world will have an impact on others. “
Car sales have fallen sharply in recent months due to the record number of workers who have lost their jobs and the millions of people who work from home and do not go to work. This drop in demand for cars is another problem that automakers are facing with the Covid-19 pandemic, said Leggett.