Lockdown was ‘pause’, now it’s time to ‘play’

By: Venkataramana Gorti

While the industry was in for an unpleasant surprise due to the Covid-19 pandemic in mid-March 2020, towards the end of April and beginning of May, it has started becoming clearer that we will have to come out with “workarounds” to wade through this situation till a vaccine is found.

Organisations across the value stream have started preparing for the same and within the “new normal” have started taking baby steps, so to say. I believe it will slowly start moving from now and we should see a good percentage of revival within few months from today.

Hence, I would look at this pandemic-enforced lockdown as more of a “pause” than a long-term slowing down of our industry.

We started our operations again from 18 May, in line with governmental guidelines. With respect to service support, wherever possible we have been providing the same with our employee safety as the top priority.

Some orders delivery dates have been moved out owing to the lockdown, but slowly shipments have begun since last week. We are expecting it to start picking up pace from June.

One of the positives during this entire lockdown has been that cargo movement did not halt; imports for us were not impacted much; and with inter-state logistics resuming in India, supplies have been quite manageable.

During the lockdown we were constantly in touch with all our customers – maybe even more than in normal times! So we are very much updated on the customer requirements and have aligned accordingly.

Homag India has also helped them by giving them key “Do’s and Don’ts” to help their machines up and running, so that their production is completely smooth. Our hotline support and service engineers are on the job!

After the initial month of complete uncertainty in March, there is better understanding on how things will pan out. Customers are in constant discussions with us on their future investments, whether it is for single machines or projects. In fact, Homag India has been able to close some good orders even during this lockdown!

Human capital is the key for us. Even during the lockdown, we invested a lot many man-hours in upskilling and have continued to be on track for the training what we had planned during the year.

I would like to commend and thank the state and Central governments as I believe they are doing their best to help industries during this tough time with apt initiatives and guidelines. This situation would have surely helped all businesses to reflect and introspect, to make necessary upgrades and changes, to be better prepared for any future, sudden, macro-level impacts.

Funding was never an issue even before the pandemic, and with the government coming up with more help and initiatives to ease businesses, I believe that funding will not be a deterrent.

Any potential investor would have done due diligence before planning to get into one of the fastest growing industries: furniture manufacturing.

Some investors might again try to test the waters for the next couple of months, but I am sure if we look at the long-term perspective, they very well know that they can back themselves on their investments to come good.

Yes, indeed there would probably be a “New Normal”. Basic hygiene and social distancing will definitely be enhanced across the social spectrum, which will become the norm. At least in the near future the availability of migrant workers would reduce considerably, so industries will have to move towards local resources.

This pandemic would also have reiterated the fact that even if you have technologically advanced machines on the manufacturing floor, it would not be prudent if you do not invest in skilled stable workforce to avoid unnecessary breakdowns, stoppages or higher maintenance costs by compromising on investing in skilled manpower.

– The writer is Managing Director, Homag India (www.homag.com).



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