After all of its facilities have been cleaned extensively, Volvo Cars has announced that it has reopened its manufacturing plants and company offices in Torslanda, Sweden, following a coronavirus-related shutdown over the last few weeks.
Sweden has been criticized in recent weeks for its somewhat “relaxed” stance on lockdowns and social distancing during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, and the same sentiments may be the drivers of this reopening. “We have a responsibility towards our employees and our suppliers to restart operations now that the situation allows it,” said Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo Cars, in a press release. “The best thing we can do to help society is to find ways to restart the company in a safe way, thereby safeguarding people’s health and their jobs.”
That said, Volvo was named “Most Ethical Company” in 2019 by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. As such, it may have earned the benefit of the doubt here and it could be that the company (Volvo Cars) really does feel like it’s safe to reopen, but Sweden reported 1,540 deaths tied to Covid-19 just yesterday. That’s an increase of 29 from Saturday, and considerably more than in the rest of Scandinavia — but, admittedly, much fewer than Italy or the UK.
“The trend we have seen in recent days, with a more flat curve — where we have many new cases, but not a daily increase — is stabilizing,” Karin Tegmark Wisell, the head of the microbiology department at the Swedish Public Health Authority, told Bloomberg reporters on Friday. “We are seeing the same pattern for patients in intensive care.”
It remains to be seen, then, if they really do have a handle on things over there, or if Volvo is jumping the gun. In the meantime, “the layout in all meeting rooms, office spaces and restaurants has been adjusted where necessary to allow for social distancing,” the press release from Volvo reads. “For example, by ensuring that desks are placed appropriately and limiting the number of people allowed in meeting rooms and restaurants.”
So, will this allow Volvo to get a jump on the summer selling season, or is this a massive health crisis in the making? Take a look at the official press release below, then let us know what you think in the comments.
Volvo Cars reopens Torslanda manufacturing plant and offices in Sweden
Volvo Cars is restarting production at its Torslanda plant in Sweden on Monday (20 April), following a short period of downtime related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, which has taken the decision to reopen following a dialogue with relevant labor unions, will also welcome back office workers to its Swedish offices on Monday. Both the plant and offices have been prepared in recent weeks to be as safe as possible for people to return in a way that safeguards their health.
A constant, close dialogue with all partners and suppliers aims to secure continued production amid ongoing yet reducing disruptions in the supply chain. Production volumes in Torslanda will be adjusted to meet demand in the market as well as existing order books.
“We have a responsibility towards our employees and our suppliers to restart operations now that the situation allows it,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive. “The best thing we can do to help society is to find ways to restart the company in a safe way, thereby safeguarding people’s health and their jobs.”
Before the return of staff on Monday, all facilities have been cleaned extensively, while sanitation and cleaning routines have been intensified and voluntary temperature and pulse oximeter* checks will be offered at main entrances.
In recent weeks, company officials have reviewed every single working station in the Torslanda plant from a health and safety perspective, and where social distancing is not possible, other protective measures have been put in place.
In Swedish office buildings the layout in all meeting rooms, office spaces and restaurants has been adjusted where necessary to allow for social distancing, for example by ensuring that desks are placed appropriately and limiting the number of people allowed in meeting rooms and restaurants.
As for the other sites in Volvo Cars’ global manufacturing network, the Ghent, Belgium plant will also reopen on Monday 20 April, but at reduced production output. The company currently plans to reopen its South Carolina plant in the United States on Monday 11 May. The engine plant in Skövde, Sweden and the body component manufacturing site in Olofström, Sweden will continue to plan their production on a weekly basis and adapt according to needs in the other plants.
Office workers in other markets will continue to follow local guidelines, but Volvo Cars health and safety officials hope that learnings from the Swedish facilities can be implemented elsewhere as well.
Volvo Cars will continue to make use of the support package introduced by the Swedish government earlier this year, which means a continued reduction of working time for most employees. The welcome support by the government allows Volvo Cars to protect its fundamentally healthy business until markets stabilize.
Source | Images: Volvo Cars.
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