Effects of Magna fire ripple through auto supply chain

March 4, 2011 http://detnews.com/article/20110304/AUTO01/103040339

Effects of Magna fire ripple through auto supply chain

The Detroit News

Workers at auto plants from Michigan to Texas, as well as employees of supplier Magna International Inc., were impacted by a fire at the Magna Atreum plant in Howell.

About 450 Magna employees were told not to return to work until further notice, after fire destroyed a portion of the plant that makes seats and interior trim for Detroit’s Big Three, as well as Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp.

General Motors Co. canceled production shifts at assembly plants in Flint and Lordstown, Ohio, and made changes at several others. Other affected plants include Arlington, Texas; Detroit-Hamtramck; Lansing Delta Township; Fort Wayne; and Oshawa Consolidated.

Production in Lordstown, which has about 4,150 hourly workers building the Chevrolet Cruze compact car, was suspended indefinitely effective this morning. At Flint Assembly, GM said most of the 2,100 employees building Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD trucks will stay home today. Production at the Flint plant was expected to resume Monday, GM said.

Those plants are adjusting overtime schedules or running shorter shifts.

Under the terms of the United Auto Workers contract, workers will be paid for any downtime. GM may have to order a shortened workweek or temporary layoff, depending on how long the material shortage lasts, officials said.

Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC had not adjusted production plans as of Thursday evening, but were monitoring the parts situation.

About a quarter of the production floor and about 40 percent of the total plant was affected, said Magna spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst.

Magna officials are now at work figuring out how long it will take for production to resume and whether other Magna plants can fill some of the gap, Fuerst said.

Magna was assessing which parts are made in the fire-ravaged portion, how many are in stock or transit, and whether parts can be obtained from other facilities, said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen.

Production continues on normal schedules at Chrysler Group LLC plants that rely on Magna parts, said Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson.

The Howell plant supplies interior components to Chrysler’s Toledo North Assembly Plant that makes the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro, as well as the Windsor, Ontario, minivan plant and Brampton, Ontario, plant that makes the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger.

“We consider our suppliers part of our extended family, so we’re very grateful that no one was injured in this terrible accident,” Chrysler said in a statement.

The plant caught fire about 5 p.m. Wednesday. Workers were allowed to retrieve vehicles from the parking lot but not permitted to enter the building. Paychecks were to be available today at the Michigan Works office in Howell.

The facility is part of Canada-based Magna International, one of the world’s largest suppliers.

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