KEARNEY — The Eaton Corp. valve and gear manufacturing plant in Kearney is active, but not all of the facility’s estimated 500 workforce is back on the job after the March 20 suspension of operations.
Like many other manufacturing facilities, the Kearney plant at 4200 U.S. Highway 30 in east Kearney is using social distancing, staggering shifts and employing other strategies to protect employees against the coronavirus.
The temporary closing of the Kearney plant on March 20 came as three major automakers — Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler — announced they would stop production for about two weeks in face of the virus outbreak. The automakers reportedly agreed to deep clean their factories.
Health benefits continued for affected Eaton employees during the stoppage, and they had the option to collect vacation pay.
A corporate spokesperson, Cara Klaer, senior manager of communications for Eaton Corp.’s Vehicle Division, responded today to the Kearney Hub’s request for an update on the Kearney plant. Here are Klaer’s responses:
Question: Has production resumed at the Kearney plant? What date?
Answer: As of March 30, the Kearney plant is partially open to support customer demand.
Question: Is the plant operating at full capacity? How many employees are active?
Answer: The Kearney plant is partially open with an estimated 350 employees working.
Question: Has the plant been successfully disinfected?
Answer: Eaton has taken many preventive measures to protect the safety and well-being of our employees. In our facilities that remain open, we continue to take every precaution by practicing social distancing, restricting visitors, increasing cleaning and disinfecting protocols, staggering shifts and requiring all entrants to self-monitor their health and evaluate their COVID-19 risk prior to entering the facility. Individuals who do not meet our screening criteria are not allowed into the facility.
Question: Does Eaton Corp. anticipate there will be additional suspensions of production in Kearney?
Answer: Because this situation is dynamic, we are not in a position to speculate at this time. We will continue to closely monitor customer demand, the markets we serve, and follow guidance from governmental authorities and health organizations.
Question: The Kearney plant was one in five states and Mexico where production was suspended. Can you report the status of the other plants?
Answer: The status of each plant is very fluid. In general, the majority of our facilities in North America have been idled or have reduced production schedules.
Question: Is there additional information you can share that is important and would contribute to the accuracy and completeness of today’s report?
Answer: Our company’s first focus has been and remains the health and safety of our employees, customers, suppliers and the public. Eaton is coordinating closely with local, state and national governments, and following governmental and health authorities’ guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.