Volkswagen of America and Faurecia have teamed up to manufacture facemasks and gowns.
The shift in supply chain utilisation came about from an internal Volkswagen task force, created to identify ways of meaningfully impacting the fight against the virus. After initial outreach to suppliers and production partners, an opportunity was identified when Faurecia communicated the desire to modify the company’s production lines. After operational discussions with Volkswagen, plus an initial order of 70,000 masks and 5,000 gowns, Faurecia was able to pivot its processes and begin production at one of its facilities in Mexico. The company has since been able to significantly ramp up production capacities and is now able to make an estimated 250K masks and 50K gowns per week.
Meanwhile GM is actively training employees at the company’s Kokomo plant in the extensive screening, cleaning and other CDC-recommended procedures that will be in place when volume production of Ventec Life Systems’ critical care ventilator begins in less than two weeks. Among the employees is UAW Local 292 member Debbie Hollis of Kokomo.
“I have family all across the country, so COVID-19 has impacted everybody that I know and love,” Hollis said. “I’m grateful that I get a chance to do my part and be a part of something, we are modern-day Rosie the Riveters.”
Hollis and the production team, which will grow to more than 1,000 men and women, including people who already work for GM and new hires from the Kokomo area, are also gaining hands-on exposure to Ventec’s ventilator.
“Every ventilator we build can help save lives, and GM’s global supply base and manufacturing teams, the UAW, and the Kokomo community are working with passion and unwavering commitment to get the job done,” said Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president, Global Manufacturing. “People have moved mountains to help increase production of Ventec’s critical care ventilator and we are just weeks away from delivering these lifesaving devices. I have never seen anything like it in my career.”
Ford’s European news
Ford has confirmed that the temporary suspension of vehicle and engine production at most of its European manufacturing sites is now expected to run at least until May 4.
The announcement follows prior confirmation that production would be temporarily suspended from March 19 for a number of weeks at Ford’s main continental European manufacturing sites (Saarlouis and Cologne, Germany; Valencia, Spain; and Craiova, Romania), with production also halted at its Bridgend and Dagenham engine plants in the UK from March 23. The company’s operations in Valencia, Spain, however, will remain in temporary suspension until at least April 27.
“It’s important we give our employees as much clarity as possible on how long the present situation is likely to continue,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. “We are hopeful the situation will improve in the coming month; our plans to restart operations, however, will continue to be informed by prevailing conditions and guidance of national governments.”
Ford’s production restart plans depend heavily on the pandemic situation in the weeks ahead, national restrictions in operation at the time, supplier constraints and the ability of our dealer network to operate. The company’s ‘return to work’ plan also will encompass appropriate measures on social distancing and other health and safety protocols to protect its workforce.
Current work arrangements in place for employees supporting production activities, as well as those still performing critical roles at non-manufacturing sites who are working remotely, will continue.