After more than 100 days in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, General Motors has just announced that it recently restarted production at its OBB plant located in the city of Quito, Ecuador. The automaker has resumed operations at the Ecuadorian plant while complying with the strictest safety and cleaning protocols, guaranteeing the integrity of all workers and other people involved.
The GM OBB plant becomes the last of the company’s eight factories in South America to restart its production activities amid the current health crisis. The process was carried out progressively and safely, thanks to a team of collaborators who worked during the quarantine to ensure that the plant kept its critical processes operating for a smooth production restart.
“From the experience of other GM plants that also had to stop operations, we knew that we were facing a shutdown period that could be longer than usual,” said Manufacturing Director of GM OBB Plant, Jean Paulo Silva, in a press release. “However, preparing and taking care of all aspects of the manufacturing operation was an important step for us to be able to return to work safely,” he added.
GM points out that the OBB plant, where more than 700 people work, including operators and administrative personnel, never completely shut down during three-plus months of quarantine. Although the factory was forced to suspend vehicle production from mid-March, the company immediately activated its own emergency plan to initiate an extended shutdown and ensure the continuity of vital operations for the factory.
As such, a group of five operators was in charge of maintaining the facilities and systems to ensure a proper restart of production. Its work was carried out in three shifts, ensuring 24 continuous hours of operation in some plant systems that cannot be turned off for avoiding the deterioration of materials and economic losses. Among the critical processes that must be kept active were:
- The ELPO system in the KT tank, where the electro-positioning of the paint particles on the bodywork is carried out and the recirculation of the material is vital.
- Paint mixing, so that there is no solidification and pipe clogging in the facilities.
- The cooling towers, which require constant chemical dosing of water.
- The paint pits, for the recovery of residual sludge and prevent it from solidifying.
- Care of the bacteria population in the Biological treatment plant.
The GM OBB plant currently produces the Chevrolet Sail sedan and the Chevrolet D-Max midsize pickup, two vehicles that account for about 80% of Chevrolet‘s sales in Ecuador. In addition to the Ecuadorian market, these models are exported to other countries in the Andean region of South America such as Chile and Colombia.