The automotive industry has been at a virtual standstill for weeks, and it’s clear factories need to get moving again, and quickly. One out of seven jobs in North America is tied to the sector and the consequences of a prolonged pause would be catastrophic.
Automakers are currently working feverishly at restarting production wherever and however possible. But this will have to be done in observance with social distancing and other regulations that constitute the new normal for the foreseeable future. The first and most important concern is of course to ensure the safety of its workers and forestall the spread of the coronavirus.
Ford is currently looking at one possible solution that could well spread far and wide. It involves having workers wear wristbands that would warn them when they get closer than two metres away from others.
According to Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker, the company is working closely with the UAW (Union of Auto Workers) regarding social distancing protocols and other regulations that may apply when factories do open up again. Said Felker, “Ford and the UAW are working closely to identify different ways to keep our people safe while they're at work.”
The wristbands, which would buzz when two workers get too close to one another, are currently being tested by a dozen workers at a Ford plant in Plymouth, Michigan. The protocols for workers could also include the use of masks and face shields. All of these measures are part of the new procedures the automaker intends to deploy at all its facilities to protect its workers. Others include daily monitoring of their health and thermal imaging sweeps to detect those who have a fever.
Ford’s assembly plants could resume operation early next month, although the company has not set a date yet.