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Reassuring re-start

Fighting for survival is not new to the industries of Tamil Nadu. The state and its entrepreneurs are known for their resilience.

DEBATES MAY CONTINUE over the right and wrong of extending the lockdown. The country faces an unprecedented crisis: factories, offices, wholesalers, retailers and service providers have all been shut for 45 days at a stretch. Many employees in and around Chennai have moved to their villages and towns down south. Several are still stuck in ‘containment zones’ not able to move out. Firms had to pay salaries to employees and also the minimum electricity charges during this lockdown. Business now needs to restart and inch its way to normalcy.

Super Auto Forge (P) Ltd., has factories in four locations in the Chennai suburbs and one at Sri City, Andhra Pradesh. We re-started the plants on 13 May with 50 per cent of employees. It involved a lot of processes – getting clearances to open, passes for personnel vehicles, material movement and employees. There were  elaborate procedures to be followed adhering to Covid norms of social distancing, sanitation, employee health tracking…

Eighty per cent return…

On 20 May about 80 per cent of the employees had turned up – a welcome and good news for the company. Those who got stuck in deeper districts or the ones living under the containment zones couldn’t turn-up for work.

MSME units in Ambattur, Thirumudivakkam and Thirumazhisai Industrial estates had opened.

All car and two wheeler makers and their ancillary plants have opened and currently there is no clear visibility of their production plan. They  will manage with available inventory, clear the backlogs and study the market before planning volume production.

Hyundai    has resumed export of cars. Vendors see corresponding pick up in the production of parts.

SAF, with its renown for cold-forging, is a leading exporter of components to American and European countries.

Exports resume…

Overseas OEMs and Tier I customers have opened their plants. In several cases they have started drawing parts from warehouses. Indications are good for their ramping upto 60 per cent of pre-Covid production levels by July.

Domestic car and two-wheeler production is expected to pick-up  from early June and stabilise to normal levels by September. This lock-down has created a lot of misery for MSME units. But we believe in their resilience to come back.

The reverse migration of north Indian labour is good to industrial units here.  It will now force industrial owners to improve employee productivity that will result in a better work culture and profitability.

Fighting for survival is not new to the industry in India and particularly to Tamil Nadu. The state and its entrepreneurs are known for their resilience. The future looks promising.

The author is CMD, Super Auto Forge Pvt Ltd, Chennai

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