Salem, Virginia - Yokohama Corp. of North America has announced plans to restart production at its passenger/light truck tire plant in Salem, ending eight weeks of being idled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The production factory was set to resume operations on 1 June.
Yokohama suspended production at the Salem plant on April 5 in response to the pandemic for what it said at the time would be a two-week shutdown.
Yokohama's move at that time came three days after Virginia governor Ralph Northam issued a state-wide stay at home order that directed all state residents to stay at home except in "extremely limited circumstances."
As the factory reopens, Yokohama said it has implemented new safety procedures and protocols to ensure the health and welfare of all personnel upon their return.
According to Yokohama, employees are asked to not report to work and notify their manager immediately when:
• They are experiencing any symptoms such as a fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath or flu-like conditions;
• A family member or significant other has travelled to an area with widespread or sustained community transmission of a case of the coronavirus within the last 14 days; or
• They have been in close contact with a person —– including a healthcare worker — who has a confirmed or presumptive case of Covid-19.
Safety protocol while inside the plant includes:
• The suspension of large group meetings;
• Personal protective equipment is being issued and face masks must be worn at all times;
• The employee restaurant can serve only canned drinks and pre-made lunches, and alternated seating is required;
• The suspension of all outside deliveries to the plant (food, personal, etc.)
• No employee may use the shower room and each should bring a change of clothes;
• Employees are required to wipe down equipment touch-points every hour; and
• Employees must sit six feet apart while in the breakroom.
The 52-year-old Salem plant has a rated capacity of over 6 million tires a year with approximately 900 workers.
Yokohama reopened its truck tire plant in West Point, Mississippi, 27 April. The company had idled that plant 28 March in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Santa Ana, California-based Yokohama Corp. of North America is the holding company for parent Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd.'s various operating companies, including Yokohama Tire Corp., Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Virginia and Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi.
The reopening comes a few weeks after Yokohama Rubber disclosed fiscal 2020 first-quarter results, which showed a 90.4% plunge in operating profit and posted a net loss on a pandemic-driven double-digit sales drop.
Tire-related revenue in North America fell 9.2% in the period to $288 million.