Due to COVID-19, most automakers closed their production sites in March. In the middle of May, the US auto industry started to see signs of recovery. After months of halted manufacturing, G.M., Ford, and Fiat Chrysler welcomed back employees with restrictions to ensure a safe work environment.
The month of April reported a 50-percent decline in auto-sales according to Cox Automotive. This negative trend for the auto-industry has now sent tens of thousands of auto-workers back to working on plants across the South and the Midwest United States. Fiat Chrysler stated that it was “pleased” with the restart.
The risk of COVID-19 infection is high for assembly-line workers who spend hours each day working in close quarters. To combat this, the rate at which cars are produced has slowed tremendously, limiting the number of workers needed to produce parts and vehicles. Employees are required to time their arrivals so that they do not interact largely with other workers. Additionally, the “Big Three” automobile producing plants are taking temperatures of workers before they begin work each day. Then, the workers must wear a mask, gloves, and eye protection.
Ford reported workers who tested positive and then paused work six separate times to clean equipment and locate workers who may have come in contact with the infected. These setbacks, though, were expected. Toyota and Honda both paused production briefly as well to disinfect sites after workers tested positive for the virus.
There is an inherent risk of the coronavirus spreading in a highly populated place; the auto industry is taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of workers, but the virus is rampant, and its spread has stalled mass production. Production numbers are relatively small to promote the wellbeing of workers. The tactics currently utilized by the industry act as a trial for the future of not only the auto-industry but factories worldwide.
The reopening of the industry is delicate. Production has begun but slowly. Employees are working, but for shorter shifts. The industry faces many challenges, but with the proper guidelines, the revival of the Auto industry seems steady and certain.