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Tuesday, 12 May 2020 17:12

'Phase 3': MI Manufacturing Begins Methodical Restart

Written by Breana Noble and Jordyn Grzelewski, The Detroit News
Technician Randy Ford works in the final measurement check area on a transfer case for a Ford vehicle May 11 at BorgWarner in Auburn Hills, MI.  Technician Randy Ford works in the final measurement check area on a transfer case for a Ford vehicle May 11 at BorgWarner in Auburn Hills, MI.  Daniel Mears, The Detroit News


Flex-N-Gate began opening its industrial facilities in Michigan, turning on large injection molding machines and presses and recalling workers. Those efforts will continue at different facilities late into the week.


Employees will get their temperatures checked and fill out a questionnaire about travel and if they are experiencing symptoms. If they are, they may be sent home or quarantined in a separate room until they can get a ride. Those able to enter the building will receive and must wear a face mask.


Management also will go "page by page" with the workers through the company's restart "playbook," Kennedy said, that discusses the new protocols including social distancing and wiping down work stations before and after their shifts.


"It's to make sure they understand it, they agree with it and that it makes sense to you," he said. "We need to not only ensure that, but that we believe [in] each other to do this in the right way."


After being away from the job for weeks, employees also will get a refresher on ensuring the production of quality parts under new safety measures. As that happens, the company will resume production based on orders from the automakers, which themselves initially will start with fewer shifts and at slower production rates.


"The last thing anyone wants is to start-stop, start-stop," Kennedy said. "They are big, complex monsters. Once they get going, you don't want to stop. So, everyone is taking a smart, thoughtful and logistical manner."


Pearson of Mahindra has developed ever-evolving protocols based on Occupational Health and Safety Administration guidelines, conversations with other manufacturers and feedback from employees. But the automaker says it is being even more cautious in its approach.


Employees must complete contact tracing forms and go through a temperature check each time they enter the building. Anyone with a temperature higher than 99.1 degrees Fahrenheit will be sent home, even though 100.1 is the standard.


Pearson has divided buildings into "zones" into which employees are confined. Necessary meetings or handoffs will happen in neutral areas that are regularly sanitized. Foot traffic will flow in one direction.


The automaker will provide employees with personal protective equipment. During the production hiatus, Mahindra has made face masks and face shields as well as aerosol boxes that protect health care workers when they are caring for intubated COVID-19 patients.


Plant leaders understand workers may feel stress about returning and learning to adhere to a new way of working: "So we're starting super conservative," Pearson said. "We can loosen it back up to the actual plan we have, once we know they're comfortable."


We thank The Detroit News for reprint permission.  

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