NEW DELHI: The fresh wave of the coronavirus has crippled industrial activity across key manufacturing units as factory output has drastically reduced for many, and even come to a halt for some top ones, in view of rising infections and closure of showrooms, with states and cities putting in place lockdowns and mobility restrictions.
Companies that have announced closures include Toyota, Maruti Suzuki, Hero Moto and Honda Motorcycles and Scooter India (HMSI), while those that have reduced output are understood to include Havells, Nippon Paints, Panasonic, Mercedes-Benz,
& Mahindra (M&M), LG (Pune factory) and Tata Motors.
With fears around the spread of the virus remaining supreme, it is believed that situation on the production front will remain challenging, especially as activity of suppliers’ and raw material vendors has also been hit.
Many companies have advanced their factory maintenance shutdowns as they wait and watch the situation. HMSI has said that it is halting production across all four plants (Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat) from May 1 for 15 days. “Honda will utilise this temporary production halt for advancing its annual plant maintenance activities,” the company said.
Anil Rai Gupta, chairman of Havells that also runs the Lloyd’s brand, said the company is reducing production across factories. “Markets are closing down and demand is less. We have seen demand go down by 20-30 per cent. So, we are cutting down production,” Gupta told TOI.
Sharad Malhotra, president (automotive refinishes and wood coatings) at Nippon Paint India said volume is already down by 40 per cent and there is uncertainty. “Semi-automated setups that depend on manpower, such as ours, are facing a double whammy as worker availability is down by 30-40 per cent,” Malhotra said.
Hero Moto has also announced a “temporary suspension” as a precautionary measure. “Hero Moto has decided to halt operations temporarily at all manufacturing facilities,” the company — which will also carry out maintenance — said, adding, demand has been impacted by localised shutdowns in many states.
Toyota has also stopped production at factories in Karnataka, and is utilising the period for maintenance and enhancing Covid protection measures.
Rajeshwar Tripathi, chief HR Officer at M&M, said in accordance with the ‘Break the Chain’ guidelines shared by the Maharashtra government, its plants are operational with lower levels of manning and are following strict adherence to social distancing, hygiene protocols and safety.