Safe Restart for Auto Industry in North AmericaBy Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 05/14/2020 - 14:14
Enforcing sanitary checkpoints at plants, as well as additional health protocols, is the top priority for automakers and auto part manufacturers in North America as they get ready to resume operations on May 18.
The US big three: Ford, GM and FCA, will continue as planned and restart operations next Monday. The three companies have taken a united front to ensure the needed measures at its plants so workers can be safe when returning to their jobs. GM and Ford told Reuters they had had zero transmissions in their North American plants.
Some car manufacturing facilities in Europe, such as Ferrari, implemented ongoing testing for their employees. In the US, according to Union Auto Workers (UAW) Vice President, Cindy Estrada, due to the lack of testing capacity, operations will be resumed without regular tests. "We have to continue to push for testing. Unless we have testing weekly to keep sick people out of the plant, there is always a risk," she told Reuters. Nevertheless, temperature checkpoints, social distancing and masks use will be enforced at the facilities.
In Mexico, earlier this week, the General Health Council announced the classification of mining, construction and transport equipment manufacturing sectors as essential. As manufacturers started to get ready to resume operations, mixed signals have been sent to the industry as the official decree is still missing. "We just held a meeting with the president's Chief of Staff, Alfonso Romo, who has confirmed us that the industrial sector must resume operations given that on May 18 most car manufacturing facilities will be opening in the US, Canada and Mexico," told INA's Executive President, Oscar Albín to El Economista.
In the country, public institutions, industry associations and automotive clusters have taken the lead on advising companies on health protocols as they get ready to resume operations. IMSS has provided online trainings which have detailed the measures under which workers should return to their duties. Mexico's Ministry of Labor has also indicated that protocols will at least include entry filters, exclusive transportation and regular checkpoints in common areas.
Enoch Castellanos, President of the National Chamber of the Transformation Industry (CANACINTRA), which includes all manufacturing companies, has pointed out that all sanitary measures will represent between 5 to 10 percent of the total investments companies will do over the year. "The industry has taken the necessary actions and cautions and we will continue to do so as the law requires it so we can mitigate the effects of the pandemic. By doing this, we will continue to show our commitment to the sector in adopting all necessary measures," said AMIA on a statement.