We will restart our plants in Europe and North America in the coming weeks with limited production. The following article with COO Stefan Leitzgen, gives an overview of the current status and what we can expect in the coming weeks.
Andreas Heine: What is the restart schedule for Europe and when will each plant start up again?
Stefan Leitzgen: The first plants restarted last week, others will follow this week and the last hopefully on May 11. However, we will have to work in single shifts at the beginning and not even at all plants or over the whole week. For example, we will start in Attendorn this week on a shift with 25 employees, which normally has about 120 employees.
Andreas Heine: In world news, they are saying that the development in North America is a good two weeks behind. Does that also apply to the restart in Canada, USA and Mexico?
Stefan Leitzgen: In general, that is the case. The complete lock down in all three countries will continue until at least May 10, in Mexico until the end of the month. But even these dates change almost daily. With very few exceptions, none of our customers are planning to restart before May 11.
Andreas Heine: Are the strategies for ramping up the automotive plants similar or completely different?
Stefan Leitzgen: Basically, all OEMs are planning similarly. They will all start with one shift and then increase their production week by week. Often the assembly lines run slower than before the crisis because fewer employees are being used. The speed of ramp-up varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Andreas Heine: Are we well prepared for the restart everywhere or are there still special challenges?
Stefan Leitzgen: All plants must carry out a "Return to Work" audit. This is how we check whether all COVID-19 precautionary measures have been implemented. And every employee worldwide receives training in which the plant-specific measures are explained. With that, yes, I am convinced we are very well prepared.
Andreas Heine: Will our new mandated instructions for dealing with persons at the plant be accepted and enough to tackle the Coronavirus and will they be implemented where employees are already working?
Stefan Leitzgen: Our COVID-19 protective measures will also be implemented in the plants where employees are already working. Of course not everything is running smoothly yet, but it is working. There is occasional criticism, for example for the closure of the changing rooms. But there are also employees who have thanked us for our prudent approach.
Andreas Heine: Are there any projections as to how badly the shutdown has affected us as a company and what impact it will have on our annual results?
Stefan Leitzgen: There is an initial forecast for the period from January to the end of June. The figures are very sobering. However, it is still far too early to make a forecast for the entire year. But one thing is already completely clear today: we will have to tighten our belts considerably.