Bosses at Ford and Vauxhall have confirmed that their UK engine and car plants are due to restart manufacturing next week.
Ford confirmed that it intends to resume initial production at its engine plants in Dagenham, Essex and Bridgend, South Wales from May 18.
French bosses at Vauxhall also confirmed that manufacturing of commercial vehicles will also kickstart in Luton on Monday with new health measures in place to ensure workers return in a ‘progressive and safe manner’.
Revving up a return to work: Ford has confirmed workers will return to engine factories in Dagenham and Bridgend on Monday, with new health measures in place, such as screen to separate work stations
Both brands will restart operations the same day as the UK’s biggest car producer, Jaguar Land Rover, which will ‘gradually’ reopen assembly lines in Solihull and commence building engines in Wolverhampton from 18 May.
Ford says a limited number of employees have already been work at its two UK sites in recent weeks to ensure the ongoing provision of critical services, though more will go back next week to resume conventional outputs.
In total, some 1,830 jobs are based at the Essex engine plant, while Bridgend employs approximately 1,700 – though is due to close for good in September.
Most of staff at both sites are currently on the government-supported furlough scheme.
Confirming the production restart, Graham Hoare, chairman of Ford of Britain, said: ‘As we return to work at our two engine plants in the UK, our key priority is the implementation of Ford’s global standards on social distancing and strengthened health and safety protocols to safeguard the well-being of our workforce.’
A comprehensive set of Ford global standards on social distancing and employee health and safety actions – which the brand says ‘exceed the UK Government’s current guidance’ – are being implemented across Ford’s facilities in the UK.
The Dagenham engine plant (pictured) has around 1,830 staff, many of them currently on furlough
The engine plant in Bridgend has around 1,200 staff, though the facility is due to close for good in September
In total, some 1,830 jobs are based at the Essex engine plant, while Bridgend employs approximately 1,700 – though is due to close for good in September
The guidelines require anyone entering the plants to use a company-provided face mask, and a face shield in select manufacturing positions and other positions where social distancing cannot be met.
Each day starts with a body temperature check on entry using scanning equipment that meets national regulations and a wellness self-assessment process to confirm employee fitness and readiness for work before entering a Ford facility.
The car maker has also redesigned work areas to ensure social distancing guidelines are maintained and established a phased return to work to reduce employee density in buildings and on production lines.
The cover of Ford’s 65-page ‘Return To Work Playbook’
All of these measures are part of a 64-page ‘coronavirus playbook’ circulated to all Ford sites globally, which employees are expected to read before returning on 18 May.
The company also will provide all staff with a personal ‘care kit’, including disposable face masks, a reusable thermometer and other hygiene items.
Ford will continue to build ventilator sub-assemblies for the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium that was setup to supply the NHS with the much-needed units ahead of the lockdown.
The facility used in the assembly of the ventilators is separate from the main engine plant buildings at Dagenham and has no impact on engine production, it has clarified.
Ford also is producing face masks for its UK employees and those across its facilities in Europe.
‘By producing face masks for its own use, Ford is helping reduce demand on stretched supply chains for personal protection equipment also needed by medical services such as the National Health Service and other industries,’ it said in a statement.
Vauxhall will also restart manufacturing of commercial vehicles at its Luton facility on Monday
Some 1,200 staff in total work for Vauxhall in Luton, and a raft of new guidelines have been drawn up to protect the first who will return to their jobs next week
Owners of Vauxhall, French Groupe PSA, said its priority has been to protect the health of its employees and ensure the sustainability of the company before announcing a return date for some of the 1,200 staff located at the Luton commercial vehicle plant, now confirmed for 18 May.
Like Ford, it has pre-developed its on set of protocol of reinforced health measures, which has already been widely shared with representative trade union organisations and has been subject to systematic audits.
Measures to be implemented in Vauxhall factories
– Use wherever possible of individual transport. For carpooling and public transport, provision of masks and predefined filling rule (staggered placement from the back of the bus).
– Temperature check at the entrance to the site, in addition to symptom self-monitoring file
– Individual supply of masks and hydro alcoholic gel
– Wearing glasses and masks on site
– Respect for a distance between people throughout the site, including rest areas, smoking areas with floor markings
– Keep doors open (except fire doors) to avoid contact with the handles
– Frequent cleaning of tools and work surfaces
– Waiting time during any exchange of parts not prepared in the PSA environment
– Adjustment of rotations between teams’ shifts to avoid crossovers
In addition, auditors will be responsible for daily verifying of the application of barrier measures and gestures on the site and implementing corrective actions, if necessary.
‘Protecting our employees and protecting our company remain the two intangible principles for the management of our operations,’ said Yann Vincent, executive vice president for manufacturing of Groupe PSA.
‘Our enhanced measures protocol offers a high level of protection to our employees and is the first criterion for restarting our manufacturing sites.
Colin MacDonald, director of the Luton plant, added: ‘Since the shutdown of our site, we have implemented a reinforced health protocol on our industrial site with the support of our medical service and in close collaboration with our union partners.
‘Thanks to this collective effort, validated by the audit that took place on 4 May, we can resume the manufacturing of the commercial vehicles on Monday 18 May, in a progressive and safe manner.’
PSA has yet to confirm when the Ellesemere Port factory in Merseyside – which produces the Astra family hatchback – will restart production.
Easing lockdown measures will see showrooms reopening from June 1, the government has confirmed this week.
UK car makers’ plans to return from lockdown
Rolls Royce – went back on 4 May
Rolls-Royce is to become the first UK car firm to restart full production after the coronavirus lockdown, with staff returning on May 4. Bosses said that 1,000 employees – half the total workforce – would be back on the production line from that date resuming production of its exclusive Phantom, Wraith, Dawn and Cullinan models. Support staff such as marketing and sales will continue to work from home. The firm’s factory at Goodwood near Chichester will operate one shift daily, rather than the usual two. Staff will wear protective clothing and masks, and will observe social distancing rules in line with Health and Safety advice.
Aston Martin – went back on 5 May
Aston Martin Lagonda has announced that it will resume operations at its St Athan facility, in Wales on 5 May, following guidelines from Public Health Wales and Public Health England to protect its workforce. It said it will take ‘learnings in terms of health and safety’ into account when it reopens its main car plant in Gaydon, Warwickshire, at a later date.
Bentley – went back on 11 May
Bentley says it will introduce a set of around 250 ‘comprehensive and wide-ranging’ new hygiene and social distancing measures under a phased return to production at the company’s headquarters in Crewe from May 11. Full production is anticipated to resume on May 18 with a later, staggered return to work for office-based colleagues and those able to work from home. The measures are built around seven key areas – prior to leaving work, travel, entry, preparing for work, work stations, breaks, and exiting the site – and are designed to protect staff at the factory, which employs over 4,000 people and where every Bentley is hand-built.
Jaguar Land Rover – due back from 18 May
Britain’s biggest car maker, Jaguar Land Rover, has announced it is to ‘gradually’ resume production at two of its UK plants on May 18 amid ‘robust’ guidelines to support a return to work. Bosses at JLR said that manufacturing will resume at its major assembly line in Solihull, West Midlands, and at its engine plant in Wolverhampton next month. JLR has furloughed around half its workforce – though it has been taking the option to top-up their pay to 100 per cent. It confirmed that around a quarter of the Solihull workforce will return in mid-May – the production hub for SUV models including the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar and Jaguar F-Pace.
Nissan – TBC
Nissan has announced plans to begin building cars again in June after suspending production more than six weeks ago. The car giant said its Sunderland plant will remain closed throughout May, with a phased resumption of work the following month. During the lockdown, Nissan staff have used their production and distribution skills to help make personal protective equipment, including visors and gowns, for the NHS. The Japanese firm had previously been piloting new safety measures at the Sunderland plant using 50 members of staff who returned to work last week.
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