Ford says it intends to restart initial production at its engine manufacturing plants in Dagenham and Bridgend from 18th May.
Together with Valencia Engine Plant in Spain, which also restarts production next week, the resumption of production at Dagenham and Bridgend means that all of Ford’s European manufacturing facilities will be back at work.
A limited number of employees have continued to work on company sites in the UK over recent weeks to ensure the ongoing provision of critical services. These activities continue to build up on a progressive basis towards more normal business levels.
In addition, non-production employees whose roles require specialist equipment only available on-site started to return to work in greater numbers from 4th May. Those non-production employees who can work remotely are continuing to do so for the present time.
“As we return to work at our two engine plants in the UK, our key priority is the implementation of Ford’s global standards on social distancing and strengthened health and safety protocols to safeguard the well-being of our workforce,” said Graham Hoare, chairman, Ford of Britain.
A comprehensive set of Ford global standards on social distancing and employee health and safety actions – and which exceed the UK Government’s current guidance – are being implemented across Ford’s facilities in the UK:
The facility used in the assembly of the ventilators, an empty warehouse transformed into a manufacturing facility, is separate from the main engine plant buildings at Dagenham and has no impact on engine production.
Employees worked ceaselessly for three weeks to get the high-tech production line up and running – a feat that would usually take a full year.
“It took many late nights and a lot of hard work, but the ingenuity and commitment of our people has been just remarkable, and it shows how a crisis can bring out the best in us,” said Mr Hoare. “The way they have sacrificed time with family and also been so willing to learn something new to help build these life-saving devices is full testimony to their desire to deliver, and it makes me very proud to be part of this team.”
Converting a warehouse at the company’s Dagenham plant estate into an ISO9001 accredited facility required the team to repurpose existing equipment and quickly establish a production line for components boxes and 8.4-inch remote display screens that form a key part of the fully assembled units.
3D printing processes were employed to make key components for 200 workstations – which adhere to social distancing requirements – for the Ford volunteers that include operators, product coaches, technicians and engineers from a range of departments. In total, at full production, more than 650 people will be working in three shifts at the facility.
Ford is part of the Consortium Executive that includes Airbus, McLaren, Penlon and Siemens. To collaborate day-to-day with Penlon, located in Oxford, U.K., the Ford team is using HoloLens 2 virtual reality headsets, which enable remote technicians and specialists to view the perspective of the HoloLens wearer on a computer screen and provide real-time guidance and information, seen as holograms in the wearer’s field of view.
“There’s no hierarchy in a time of crisis. People just work together for a common goal. By working closely with Penlon and medical practitioners, we quickly bridged the gap to go from making engines to making ventilators, and together with our partners in the consortium we’re now producing a device by the thousands that’s normally made in small quantities,” said Martin Everitt, plant manager, Dagenham Engine Plant, Ford of Britain.