Ford Almussafes, on the verge of eliminating the night shift: the management reorganizes the factory to produce only during the day

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A well-founded fear is gaining strength among the employees of Ford Almussafes for the past few weeks. Is about the suppression of the night shift in the factory for the next few months. The multinational already eliminated it in the first half of this year to save costs, although it was a temporary measure and it recovered it when demand rose slightly. But this time the plant seems to be adapting to manufacture, at least in the short and medium term, only during the day.

The scenario is the following. The Valencian factory has two assembly lines (the so-called ‘systems A and B’) and three work shifts for each of them (morning, afternoon and night). But currently, due to the fall in demand due to the pandemic and the global shortage of semiconductors (chips), system A is running only in the mornings. It does not make cars either in the afternoon or at night.

System B, on the other hand, operates at full capacity (morning, afternoon and night) because it is the only one in which the Ford Kuga PHEV -the plug-in hybrid version of the factory’s flagship vehicle. Ford Almussafes maintains production at three shifts in system B because only in this system can this model be manufactured. But such a circumstance is about to change.

As this newspaper has been able to verify, management is adapting ‘system A’ so that it can also produce the Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid. Specifically, it is installing in this line the robots capable of handling the heavy batteries of this car and is sending employees to ‘system B’ to train and learn to also produce this car in ‘system A’.

Once this line was adapted, Ford Almussafes you will have the possibility to delete the night shift from ‘system B’ to manufacture in the afternoon in the ‘A system’, a change that would allow you to save the nighttime bonus that employees who work at night receive. All this as long as demand is maintained with the current volume or a lower one.

“A clear possibility”

Asked about it, Ford Almussafes sources refused to specify whether these changes in the assembly line will result in the end of the night shift. Union sources, on the other hand, stated that the end of the night production is “a clear possibility”. “Being able to resume activity this year at night was already a positive surprise, but it is true that the current volume and the changes introduced point in that direction,” they indicated.

The pandemic and the global shortage of chips have been two very hard blows for the whole of the automotive sector and for Ford Almussafes in particular. The records of the plant at the end of the first half of the year reflect a serious slump in production.

As reported Invertia, they were just around 83,500 vehicles, which represented a drop of 26.3% compared to the first six months of 2020 despite the fact that the factory was stopped for seven weeks due to confinement. The collapse is 56.62% when compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

In absolute figures, the registration for the first half of 2019 was 192,500 vehicles. A year later, the data fell by 41.14% in the largest factory in the Valencian Community to 113,300 units in the first six months of 2020, as a result of the global paralysis caused by the coronavirus.

But the 2021 record shows that the prolonged chip shortage in the automotive sector is no less of a problem than the pandemic. The data for the last semester sank to 83,500 cars. The reason? The continuous stoppages caused by the drop in demand and the lack of the essential component for automobile production, which have resulted in successive ERTE.

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