Mercedes, Boeing stall plant operations as Florence nears
- A Mercedes-Benz plant in Charleston, South Carolina, which just opened last week, "has suspended operations for September 11 until further notice in anticipation of potential impacts from Hurricane Florence," a spokesperson for Daimler told Supply Chain Dive.
- A Volvo plant in South Carolina is also closing its plant as the Category 4 Hurricane nears the U.S., Stephanie Mangini, a spokesperson for Volvo, told Supply Chain Dive. The plant opened in June 2018 and produces the automaker's S60 sedan.
- Boeing suspended operations at its plant in South Carolina where the jet manufacturer assembled 787 jets, Reuters reported.
Safety is paramount as Hurricane Florence continues its trajectory towards the East Coast, projected to make landfall any time from late Thursday to early Saturday.
The Mercedes, Volvo and Boeing plants are all located in mandatory evacuation zones. "We urge our team members, their families and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence to take this time to prepare and stay safe during the storm," the spokesperson for Daimler said.
Manufacturers are taking several precautions to prepare their factories for the storm. Boeing flew some of its 787 jets from the South Carolina plant to its plant near Seattle, according to Reuters.
The plants plan to resume operations as quickly as possible. "We’re coordinating with all of our logistics suppliers to be ready to move products to our plant as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so," Mangini said.
The timeline of getting operations back up and running could vary significantly based on the impact of Florence — its strength, its path and how quickly, or slowly, it moves once it makes landfall.
The factory closures, while necessary, will no doubt create production delays for manufacturers. The Mercedes-Benz plant that opened last week will produce 20,000 vans for Amazon's last-mile delivery program. It's unclear how Hurricane Florence and the plant closure will affect Amazon's order.
Boeing has been plagued by delays as its suppliers struggled to deliver and keep up with demand. The jetmaker has even brought back retired employees in an attempt to remedy production delays. A stall in operations is sure to throw another wrench into Boeing's production.
These delays will likely ripple through the supply chain, affecting many actors far from the path of the storm.
BMW has a plant near Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is more than 200 miles from the coast. While the automaker plans to keep its factory operational, a source told Roadshow the closure of ports could create a delay of supplier parts coming in or a backlog of vehicles to be exported.
LMC Automotive, a market intelligence provider for the auto industry, told FreightWaves 400 auto suppliers are located in South Carolina, and the disruption to the auto supply chain "could be far-reaching."
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