Ford to Idle Belgian Assembly Plant Next Week

Potential shortage of parts from Japan prompted automaker to reschedule plant's down week.

Ford has bumped up a routine weeklong idling of its Genk, Belgium, assembly plant to the week of April 4 to conserve parts.

The automaker originally had planned to idle the plant for a week in May, but decided to reschedule it for next week to manage potential parts shortages caused by the crisis in Japan, Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said.

The plant, which has 4,500 employees, makes the Ford Mondeo sedan and Galaxy and S-Max minivans.

Thus far, Ford plants have been minimally impacted by supply chain disruptions caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan. The automaker curtailed overtime at some plants in North America and Thailand earlier this month, but "so far plants have maintained their production schedules," Nissen said.

"We've been fortunate, but there's also been a lot of hard work that went into making this happen," Nissen said.

Ford, however, has asked its dealers to stop sending new orders for certain vehicles in a color called "tuxedo black," due to shortages of the pigment made by a supplier in Japan, Nissen said.

The automaker also has told dealers that it will adjust its production of certain vehicles in three different types of red paint.

"The orders that are still there will get built, but it'll take a little longer to build them," Nissen told IndustryWeek.

Nissen emphasized that the rescheduling of the weeklong plant shutdown in Belgium, as well as the shortages of certain colors of vehicle paint, will not affect Ford's overall vehicle production for the quarter.

"We're still continuing to make the same number [of vehicles] that we had planned to make," Nissen said.

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Follow IndustryWeek senior editor Josh Cable on Twitter at @JCable_IW .
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