Ford is targeting a phased restart of its North American operations beginning May 18, including restarting vehicle production in North America and bringing back a first wave of employees that are not able to do their jobs remotely, the company said Thursday.
In the phased restart, Ford's North American parts depots will resume full operations on May 11. On May 18, Ford's North American assembly plants previously operating on three-shift patterns will return with two shifts, most two-shift plants will return on one shift and most one-shift plants will operate on one shift, Ford said.
Ford's Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, and Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ontario, are expected to resume production the week of May 25 on one shift. Components plants will restart production as needed to support this plan, Ford said.
The ramp-up process will be gradual as workers adjust to new health and safety protocols and the entire supply chain comes up to speed, the company added.
"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," Ford chief operating officer Jim Farley said in a statement.
Ford and other automakers halted North American automotive production in mid-March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, shipments to automotive end-users — independent forgers and producers of vehicles, parts and other items — comprised 16.796 million st of the 95.28 million st of US steel shipments in 2018, the latest full year for which data is available, or 17.8% of domestic steel demand.