• Richa Shetty

US: Staffing Woes Put Car Industry at Remarkable Risk

  • In several of America’s biggest auto-making facilities, foot traffic appears to have never gotten back to February levels, according to a geospatial analytics company.

  • However, automakers have cautioned that the number of people in their plants may not necessarily correlate with production.

On the surface, carmakers have staged a remarkable recovery toward pre-pandemic production. But within the walls of US auto plants, it was incredibly challenging to pull off and is proving difficult to sustain.

Manufacturers rushed to restart assembly lines months ago because sales stayed surprisingly buoyant in the midst of the pandemic. Several companies said they restored output completely within weeks after reopening. Along the way, automakers have been stretched thin by absenteeism, distancing protocols, quarantines, and supply-chain constraints. Read about the 3 Reasons Why Remote Temperature Monitoring is Important in Supply Chain Management

The Unexpected American Car Industries:

In several of America’s biggest auto-making facilities, foot traffic appears to have never gotten back to February levels, according to Orbital Insight, which collects a large, stable, and nationwide sample of mobile-device location data. While some carmakers downplay the challenges they’ve been having, others acknowledge coming under serious strain in getting their factories fired back up.

The data is surprising because of just how standout a comeback the auto industry has staged. Since April, the motor vehicle and parts sector have added 289,000 to US payrolls, a more than 45% surge that dwarfs employment growth in other manufacturing categories. Know further about the Best Car Insurance Companies in Canada?


What Industry Leaders have to say:

Gary Johnson, Ford's chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer acknowledged at an Aug. 3 investor conference that automakers and their suppliers have been struggling with absenteeism. But said the company says it has been operating at close to 100% of pre-virus production levels.

For Ford and General Motors Co: the stakes involved in keeping plants cranking out vehicles—particularly pickups and SUVs—are massive. GM almost broke even in North America during the second quarter, a phenomenal feat considering the amount of time its plants were shut down during the period. But both companies count on the region in normal times for vast portions of their profits. Explore more about Effective Data and Cyber Security Measures in Fleet Management & Connected Cars

At General Motors, production was down for eight out of 13 weeks during the quarter. The number of vehicles it shipped to retailers plummeted 62%, and US inventory is a little more than half what it was a year ago. Yet Dhivya Suryadevara, the automaker’s departing chief financial officer, cautioned last month that wholesale levels will remain below normal in the second half.

Representatives for Tesla didn’t respond to requests for comment on Orbital Insight’s data, which suggests there has been a bit of a decline in foot traffic since June at its plant in Fremont, California. Understand the Role of IoT in Fleet Management?


How Prepared are the Leading Car/Motors Makers:

BMW AG resumed the first shift at its X3, X5, and X7 SUV factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in early May after a five-week hiatus. It took until the end of the month for the German carmaker’s supply chain to return to full strength and enable the company to restore a second shift, said Phil DiIanni, a spokesman. All furloughed workers have been reinstated since then.

Daimler, on the other hand, appears to have much lower foot traffic at its Mercedes GLS and GLE SUV factory in Alabama than it did in February. Daimler has staggered shifts to reduce personal contact as much as possible, according to a spokesperson. Those who can complete tasks at home are working remotely, and the company is limiting non-essential business visits. Audi India Rolls out New Version of All-in-One App for Automotive Customers, Explore the surprising specs

Volkswagen AG described similar measures at its assembly plant for Atlas SUVs and Passat sedans in Tennessee. Staffing is at normal levels and the company is actually hiring. Office and support staff are working from home, and VW is staggering shift start times and breaks to reduce the amount of foot traffic at any one time. Production is back to where it was pre-virus, and the company remains on schedule with an expansion of its facility for electric vehicles that will be completed by the end of this year, Tolbert said.

Honda Motor Cohas had to get creative As with other automakers, the Japanese company isn’t just requiring employees who test positive for Covid-19 to quarantine but also those staffers who may have come into contact with them. This has led to worker shortages and spurred the carmaker to ask some US office employees to join assembly lines so it can keep up with consumer demand.

Kia Motors also is looking to make as many of its hot-selling Telluride SUVs as it can in Georgia, but it’s had to gradually restore output due to supplier constraints. Read further Daimler Trucks Infuses Rs 2,277 Crore in India, to Quickly Bounce Back in Demand in 2021


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