Manufacturing factories ready to roll under tough norms


After nearly a month and a half in lockdown, the country’s mega manufacturing engine is taking baby steps towards opening factories, but under strict hygiene and social distancing norms. Many plants across the country opened for pre-production schedules, and started preparations for full production, with a handful of staff as sanitised factories and detailed safety strictures around the movement of people and parts greeted workers. Companies that initiated production processes were from sectors such as automobiles, consumer durables, liquor industry and electronics. They have mandated the government’s Aarogya Setu app for their staff, while companies like Maruti Suzuki have also developed an additional internal app for workers.

Players initiating steps to start production include Hyundai’s factory in Tamil Nadu, Hero’s plants in Haryana & Uttarakhand, Panasonic’s facility in Haryana, Mahindra Tractors’ factory in Uttarakhand, Hitachi in Gujarat, Foxconn’s facilities in Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu, Whirlpool in Pondicherry, parts maker Schaeffler in Gujarat and French liquor maker Pernod Ricard across many states (it has 29 factories). Samsung, LG and Chinese phone major Oppo have also sought permission from the UP government to open up plants and resume production.

Companies say as they move towards reopening factories, the major concern remains navigating locked zones. Main challenges are transport of parts and finished goods, movement of workers and access to trained manpower (many have gone back to their hometowns) and opening of retail points. Hero MotoCorp said it will re-open two plants in Haryana and one in Uttarakhand in a graded manner. “We are now ready to hit the ground sprinting as we commence re-opening of our facilities. With meticulous planning and enthusiasm, we are set to recommence operations,” Hero Moto chairman Pawan Munjal said.

Hyundai said production will begin this week. “Hyundai India plans to re-start preparatory operations on Wednesday, while adhering to guidelines laid out by government authorities.” One area of concern for many companies is how to ensure social-distancing across production lines. The existing infrastructure was never created with such factors in mind, and thus the dilemma.

German component major Schaeffler has resumed operations at its Gujarat plant. “Schaeffler’s plants in Talegaon (Maharashtra), Maneja (Gujarat) and Hosur (Tamil Nadu) are also prepared to resume operations,” the company said. Nippon Paints India, which has a factory in Bawal (Haryana), said it has received permission to get only 25% of its employees in, Sharad Malhotra, president (automotive) of the company, said. Gurmeet Singh, chairman of Johnson Controls-Hitachi AC, said while existing inventory will take care of domestic demand, the company will work towards fulfilling pending export orders that need to be completed on a priority basis.


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