Companies are including steps to enable the highest level of safety with regards to the health of employees, as well as customers
While the nationwide lockdown has been in effect for about a month now, automotive manufacturers around the globe have announced the start of operations. Some have already begun operating on a small scale, while others have fixed dates on which they plan to start production. This is a very important factor since the automotive industry in any country contributes strongly to the GDP of the economy.
Audi AG has recently announced that it had begun with engine production at its facility at Győr, Hungary, and will gradually initiate the restart of production at its other plants in Europe during the coming weeks. The company had temporarily suspended production at its European sites in mid-March due to supply bottlenecks and a drop in demand on the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The upcoming restart in the worldwide Audi production will be regulated together with suppliers and service providers. Audi said the main component of the restart is a comprehensive package of measures that focuses on the safety of employees. For this purpose, managers of production sections and groups, together with experts from occupational safety, health care, industrial engineering, and the works council, have looked at each individual workplace, analysed, and developed suggestions for improvement.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced that the company is likely to resume production from 18 May 2020, with manufacturing being initiated at its Solihull plant in the UK along with other plants in Slovakia and Austria. The company said its plant in Changshu, China, has already been operational since mid-February and is beginning to witness vehicle sales recovery in the region. JLR noted that it is developing robust protocols and guidelines to support a safe return to work, with the health and well-being of its employees being top priority. It will adopt strict social distancing measures across the business and is currently evaluating a number of different measures to ensure safety when they begin to return to work.
Meanwhile, automaker SEAT is taking a slightly different approach by firstly initiating Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests on its employees as the company prepares to start one shift at its plant from 27 April. The company plans to gradually increase production to full by June. The PCR test has proven to be the most reliable method to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and SEAT will be able to perform over 3,000 tests per week on its employees working at the Martorell, Barcelona, SEAT components, and spare parts centre. All employees will have to be tested at on-site clinics before they can get approval to resume work in their respective departments, SEAT noted.
Commercial Vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland has announced that its manufacturing plants at Alwar, Bhandara, and Pantnagar have received permission from the relevant Government Authorities to resume operations. The company said it is currently working out the supply chain readiness, post which we will resume operations and commence production in line with demand.
In preparation for the resumption of manufacturing and sales operations, Toyota Kirloskar Motor has devised a ‘Restart Manual’ as a guide for industries to follow post the lockdown withdrawal. A team of cross-functional experts at TKM has worked on the minutest details of various operations and created a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) to ensure the safest possible restart to manufacturing by securing workers from any health hazards. This manual is in consonance with the broad Government guidelines that have been issued and will be used by TKM, its suppliers, and has also been shared as a reference document with all ACMA members. In parallel, TKM developed a ‘Dealer Operations Restart Guideline’ that will be used to educate dealers in navigating the impact of COVID 19 on lives and businesses. These guidelines will be used to educate and empower dealer partners about the importance and adherence to good safety and hygiene practices, so as to secure all stakeholders from health hazards.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in almost all automotive companies grinding to a complete halt in terms of production and sales. Multiple countries are looking to end complete blanket lockdowns in the prevailing interest of their economic fate, even though coronavirus cases are still being discovered across the globe. However, as automotive companies being operations partially, they are determined to take steps keeping employees’ and customers’ health as a paramount necessity.
TEXT: Naveen Arul