CHANDAN B MALLIK, Kolkata: By the time automakers around the world are able to restart their operations, the rules of the game would have changed drastically. From the scale of economies, efficiencies, workforce guidelines among others are being re-worked to accommodate safety and other restrictive practices due to the fallout of Covid-19 (coronavirus). A safe working environment is the top priority now.
UK’s Crewe based Bentley Motors is among the early starters that has worked out an elaborate set of instructions for its workforce to follow. The luxury carmaker says that around 250 comprehensive and wide-ranging new hygiene and social distancing measures are being introduced. And there’s even a name for it: ‘Come Back Stronger’.
The purpose of the endeavour is to ensure compliance by employees in the plant that in turn will ensure a safer working environment and phased return to production from 11 May. The plan marks the biggest change to daily working life in the company’s 100 year history.
The guidelines that are to be followed revolve around seven key areas. It begins from the employees’ home, the transit to workplace, operational procedures at work, workstation management, works breaks and how to exit the factory. All these would be applicable without exceptions to over 4,000 people who work in the assembly plant.
Unlike mass produced cars where a good amount of robotics is involved and less human interaction, the scenario at Bentley is different as the cars are hand-built by technicians and craftspeople.
As a result of the new compliance measures, Bentley has taken the tool down time to rework the key process changes in all areas and the job has warranted a redesign of the manufacturing facility.
Social distancing is a key focal area and to ensure that a two-metre distance between work colleagues is maintained, working arrangement now include one-way movement paths and traffic flows. Facemasks as expected will now be compulsory in all factory and office areas
The measures taken and applied properly will ensure its staff can stay as safe as possible at all times. Personal protection equipment – including facemasks, gloves, goggles – will be provided as necessary by the company besides body temperature checks for staff. There will also be an enhanced cleaning routine and clear guidance to the workforce on limiting the risk of infection on areas such as meeting governance, site access and travel.
The rules of control will also extend the staff canteens that have been redesign to accommodate less people by maintaining distanced seating.
Due to the new arrangements and familiarisation programme, Bentley expects production output to reduce by 50 per cent initially.
“We think it will take us almost into summer to get back to anything like full production as long as everything stays stable until then,” Bentley’s CEO Adrian Hallmark said.