Ford will restart production at its European factories on May 4th, albeit at a low level of output for the moment.
According to Ford, production will re-start "in a phased approach at Saarlouis Vehicle Assembly Operations and Cologne Assembly Operations and Engine Plant in Germany; Valencia Vehicle Assembly Operations in Spain; and Craiova Vehicle Assembly Operations and Engine Plant in Romania."
No re-opening for UK factories yet
The engine plant in Valencia, in Spain, will have to wait until May 18th, and dates for Ford's two factories in the UK - Dagenham in Essex, and Bridgend in Wales - will be announced later.
"We need to prepare for a new environment once we are past the initial peak of the Coronavirus pandemic in Europe, with the key priority in our 'return to work' plan being the implementation of Ford's global standards on social distancing and strengthened health and safety protocols in the workplace. Our employees need to know that we are taking the appropriate steps to safeguard their well-being at work," said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe.
For the moment, production efforts will be concentrated on filling existing vehicle orders, and then will gradually ramp up according to demand, and according to which Ford dealers in which countries are allowed to open up again.
Health of workers is top priority
"Maintaining the health of our workforce is the top priority when restarting production and returning to work at our plants," said Martin Hennig, chairman, Ford European Works Council. "Our union leaders across Europe have agreed on far-reaching measures for the best possible protection for our employees, which go beyond the nationally prescribed measures and apply to all our plants in Europe."
As part of those measures, anyone entering a Ford factory in Europe will have to wear a face-mask, which will be provided by the company. Everyone will also have to have their temperature checked by scanning equipment. Employees will also have to, daily, fill out a 'wellness assessment form' to show that they are fit to come to work. The factory floors are also being refitted to allow for social distancing, and in-factory employee numbers will be kept low for the moment as production ramps up. The company also will provide all employees with a personal "care kit" on their return to work. The care kits include disposable face masks, reusable thermometer and other hygiene items.
Ford is making its own face-masks
Ford is already making its own face-masks to supply to employees and factory visitors, and the company says that this move will mean that it's not putting any additional strain on the global supply chain of protective equipment destined for medical staff and hospital workers.
Those Ford employees who don't work in the factories will be allowed to return to work from Monday the 4th as well, but only in cases where they need access to specialised machinery and equipment which can't be replicated at home. Other non-factory employees, and those on short-working hours, will be asked to stay at home for now.
"This is an unprecedented time for our business, but it is bringing out the very best in our people at Ford, so many of whom are engaged in supporting their communities in a multitude of actions across Europe. As we begin to restart production, we will take that positive spirit of commitment and pride back into the workplace for the further benefit of our customers," said Rowley.