Ford looks to China factories for lessons ahead of US reopenings

Ford began reopening Chinese factories in February

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Ford will use the lessons it learned from reopening its facilities in China when it reopens U.S. plants amid the coronavirus pandemic, the automaker said Thursday.

Ford does not have a timeline for when all its workers will return but along with the other members of the Detroit Big Three said it targets May 18 to resume some production in the U.S.

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Ford began reopening Chinese factories in February and said Thursday that it has been manufacturing medical equipment there. Approximately 90 percent of its Chinese employees are back to work.

“We’ve been working intently on how to restart our operations and safely bring back our employees and we’re ready,” Ford chief operating officer Jim Farley said in a statement. “We have gone through and trialed these processes."

This photo provided by Cindy Parkhurst. shows Cindy Parkhurst working at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Mich. (Cindy Parkhurst via AP)

Ford employees will be required to fill out daily online health self-certifications. All employees will have their temperatures checked upon arrival and will receive face masks.

Workers whose jobs don't allow for social distancing will be required to wear face shields, and the company is "evaluating workstations and work patterns" for workers whose jobs require them to break the six-feet rule.

"Getting back to work isn’t just good news for Ford employees," he said. "It’s also good news for our suppliers, car dealers and the ecosystems that provide services around them, like restaurants, shops and stores. This economic multiplier effect is going to help reboot communities around the globe."

Ford will need the United Auto Workers union to get behind its reopening timeline.

"We remain steadfast in our message to the companies: Our concern, first and foremost, is for the safety of our members and their families, and for the UAW that is the determining factor in re-opening these facilities," UAW President Rory Gamble told members earlier this week.

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