Monday, May 25th, 2020

Automakers prepare to return to work in Indiana

Posted: Friday, May 8, 2020

Most automakers with vehicle assembly plants in Indiana will return to work Monday in some capacity before they ramp up full production. Thousands of Hoosiers were furloughed as assembly lines shut down in mid-March and were extended multiple times.

Honda, Subaru and Toyota have all announced plans to resume operations next week, which also includes added safety precautions to allow for social distancing. General Motors plants may take longer, according to published reports.

Honda Motor Co. said Friday it will gradually resume production of automobile, engine and transmission production at its plants in the U.S. and Canada, including Honda Manufacturing of Indiana plant in Greensburg.

The company said it will stagger the start-up at each plant, with most plants using the first day to ensure that front-line leaders are trained on new procedures and activities related to COVID-19 prevention.

Honda said prior to resuming production, associates will learn about the new safety measures and re-train on work processes after the period of suspended production.

Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) is also planning to return to work Monday at the plant in Lafayette. SIA said an increasing number of associates will be at the plant to make preparations for resuming production.

“There are a number of factors, including supply chain challenges, which will play a role in determining production levels upon return,” said SIA spokesperson Craig Koven.

He said full operations are expected to resume on May 18, but he said that does not necessarily equate to full production.

“We are planning for all of our production associates to return on that day,” said Koven.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana said it plans to resume work on Monday with a gradual ramp-up of production. The company said it likely will not be at full production until closer to July.

“As we return, our first priority is to get team members back and train them on our new safety procedures,” said a company spokesperson.

As far as General Motors, a company spokesperson told Inside INdiana Business, Ft. Wayne, Kokomo and Bedford facilities, along with a majority of GM’s North American operations, are all scheduled to resume regular production the week of May 18.

GM’s truck assembly plant employs approximately 4,500 workers. Our partners at WPTA TV in Fort Wayne report the opening is somewhat dependent on the company’s ability to obtain parts from critical suppliers.

The company says ventilator production is currently scheduled to continue through August at the Kokomo plant. GM says it will not affect regular electronic production as the team is assembling ventilators at a previously unused office building.

At the end of April, the Kokomo workers had delivered more than 600 ventilators.