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Firms cut output, increase number of shifts to avoid Covid disruption – Economic Times

Some manufacturing companies have started to voluntarily cut production, increase number of shifts, or reduce shift timings to ensure social distancing in factories and minimise infection. They are also reducing sales targets and asking sales field force to curtail market visits.

At the same time, companies selling essentials and staples, such as Adani Wilmar,

and , while observing social distancing restrictions, have increased production level and inventory level to ensure continued and uninterrupted supplies of products and mitigate possible supply chain issues.

These steps are being taken amidst a surge in the daily number of cases, particularly in bigger cities and surrounding areas.

“It’s spreading like wildfire. We have shut offices and asked all employees to stay at home and exercise extreme caution,” said Varun Berry, managing director, Industries.

Rejig in Production Strategy

Maruti Suzuki India, the country’s largest car maker, has shortened shift timing in factories and is maintaining a roster for employees working in offices. Rajesh Uppal, member of executive board – HR and safety, said the company has activated its disaster management and business continuity plan due to rapid surge in cases.

AC and appliance maker Carrier Midea India’s chairman Krishan Sachdev said the company is forsaking peak production ahead of summer months to ensure social distance among factory workers. “We normally produce 1,200 units per shift per line, but currently running it at 800 units per shift per line to keep workers safe,” he said.

Godrej Appliances has cut production by 20-25% because it has sufficient stock, while Panasonic India will decide on production cut after taking stock of the situation this week. A large MNC electronics company asking not to be named said it is maintaining the production schedule but now running it in three shifts instead of two to reduce the number of workers on the shop floor, a senior executive said.

An ITC spokesperson said specific zoning has been implemented at factories to ensure that any possible spread is contained apart from random testing of workers.

LG, Samsung, ITC, Honda Cars, Haier and Carrier Midea are among companies that have reduced office attendance to 25-30% while some like LG have mandated that those visiting offices must undergo a Covid test.

These companies have given flexibility to the sales force to decide on market visits in cities where cases are high. Sales executives have also been asked to use their own vehicles. During the second wave last year, absenteeism was one of the key factors for lower productivity, both at offices and manufacturing units. However, companies hope milder symptoms and reduced quarantine period of seven days after one tests positive this time will put lower stress on the workforce.

Hyundai Motor India said its current model is a mix of work-from-home and staggered work schedules to keep office occupancy at an optimal level.

Veejay Nakra, chief executive officer (automotive division) at M&M, said so far the recent spike in Covid cases have not had any impact on operations. “We have a well defined policy in place to prepare and take care of any future impact,” he said.

Adani Wilmar, which sells the Fortune brand of edible oils, has raised production levels.

“We have increased our manufacturing by about 25% to stock more products before the situation worsens. Also, we have doubled our inventory with distributors,” said Angshu Mallick, chief executive of Adani Wilmar.

Dabur India executive director-operations Shahrukh Khan said the company has begun building requisite inventory to maintain continuity of product supplies.