U. S. automakers shut down their factories in order to help flatten the curve of the global coronavirus pandemic. Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler, as well as Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, closed their plants after the UAW requested a shut down. Subaru, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Daimler later announced shutdowns, too.
A worker at a Ford plant in Michigan had tested positive for the virus and sales of cars had fallen sharply before the Ford Motor Company’s decision was made. However, the decision was not made lightly — at Ford or elsewhere. Tens of thousands of workers were sent home at the auto plants, and more along the supply chain were facing unemployment as well.
Nissan committed to keep paying its workers during the shut down, while Ford planned to supplement unemployment compensation. Hardship for workers is likely, but there was also concern that the companies might not be able to weather the storm, and that the shut downs would affect the U.S. economy ads a whole.
Many of the automakers are now announcing when they plan to reopen. The downtime is being used to clean all the factories thoroughly and to put additional safety measures in place.
A factory can be the perfect environment to spread a virus: infected surfaces could travel from one person to another, sharing deadly microbes. Workers stand near to one another for long periods of time, and are likely to touch their faces in between touching workpieces.
But automakers, as well as other factories, are looking at opportunities to install physical barriers between workers, use more protective gear, and otherwise improve their safety initiatives for the new threat.
Some automakers are shifting to making ventilators. The lack of ventilators in U.S. hospitals has been a problem as healthcare workers try to cope with increasing coronavirus care needs. GM, Ford, Tesla, and other companies are apparently planning to retool their factories so they can reopen with a new product.
Talks between President Trump and the CEOs of Ford and GM have reportedly discussed ways and means to get their factories back open to make ventilators, while the autoworkers’ union continues to express concern over whether the shut down will be long enough for worker safety.
April 14th, two days after Easter, has been mentioned as a possible re-opening date for Ford, while Tesla’s Elon Musk says his company will get started “as soon as humanly possible.”
If your factory is still open, either because shutdowns have not been ordered in your state or because you are in a critical industry, you don’t have time for trial and error when you need service for your Rexroth drive and control systems. Call us immediately at (479) 422-0390 for the fastest possible service on factory repair and reman or emergency replacement of your components.