Coronavirus Outbreak: Appliances, electronics industry seek nod from local authorities to restart production

Home appliances and consumer electronics manufacturers said they are gearing up to resume production and are in talks with local authorities for permission to operate factories which are located within or near city municipal limits

Press Trust of India April 17, 2020 13:20:22 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Appliances, electronics industry seek nod from local authorities to restart production

New Delhi: Home appliances and consumer electronics manufacturers said they are gearing up to resume production and are in talks with local authorities for permission to operate factories which are located within or near city municipal limits.

While welcoming the government's guidelines for the extended lockdown and giving nod to resume production from 20 April, industry body Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) said there are still ambiguities which need to be cleared.

“Individually, each brand is seeking more clarity and approval on the guidelines. The guidelines say that we would have to open in a phased manner. All brands are gearing up to open up, wherever, it will be permitted," CEAMA President Kamal Nandi said.

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Representative image. Reuters.

He, however, added, "many places (factories) are falling under red zone and several places under municipal limits, wherever, we have clarity and approvals, we would open up."

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Besides, the manufacturers will also have to face the issue of shortage of manpower and social distancing norms at their production facility.

According to Nandi, it would take at least a week for the companies to restart production which has been on a standstill since the lockdown began on 25 March.

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“Ramp-up would not happen on day one. It would take some time. There is also no need to get into mass production as there is enough stock with trade partners and with e-comm companies,” he added.

Panasonic, which has a manufacturing unit at Jhajjar is hoping that it would get permission from the local authorities to operate and start manufacturing activities.

“As our factory in Jhajjar, Haryana is in the green zone, we are hoping to get the permission to start manufacturing soon,” said Panasonic India and South Asia President and CEO Manish Sharma.

He further said, "we are prepared for staggered operations with workers coming in batches ensuring social distancing, frequent sanitizing, usage of masks among other initiatives to protect our workforce.”

While Samsung is in discussion with the local authorities over the new fresh guidelines, which allows manufacturing after 20 April.

“Samsung is in talks with the local authorities in relation to the standard operating procedure to open the plants and evaluating the options,” said industry sources close to Samsung.

Daikin India MD & CEO Kanwaljeet Jawa said the relaxation for manufacturing would bring normalcy in the industry.

“The manufacturing and entailing relaxation is a welcome step towards gradually introducing normalcy and supporting the essential needs of society at large. But we still must adhere to the protocols as advised by the state and central governments to fight this pandemic,” said Jawa.

However, Haier said allowing only manufacturing would not help much as there would be no retail activity on the ground.

“This opening does not help us much. Until the retail market is open, it would not make much difference to us. To whom, we would sell our products,” said Haier Appliances India President Eric Braganza.

He also highlighted the availability of the workforce to operate the manufacturing units and said: "even if we open at this stage, we would have to use only around 20 to 25 percent of the manufacturing capacity."

Braganza also highlighted that due to the extension of the lockdown, the manufacturers are going to miss the half-season of the sales of cooling products as Airconditioner and refrigerators, which starts from early March and picks up, when the mercury rises.

LG Electronics India, which has two manufacturing units at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Pune, has welcomed the move and said permission of sale through e-commerce channels would help the customers to buy cooling products.

“We welcome this move; due to the increase in temperatures consumers are looking to buy compressor products; this will certainly enable some of them to buy consumer durables,” said a LG Spokesperson.

Whirlpool India has said that by easing out the restrictions on logistics and e-commerce, would help to resume services to consumers.

"With easing of restrictions around logistics, service and E-commerce for durables, we are hopeful that we would be able to resume serving our consumers. Alongside our trade partners, we look forward to more positive actions which will help serve the latent demand in the system ahead of the summer season,” said Whirlpool India MD Vishal Bhola.

In fresh guidelines on Wednesday for enforcing the second phase of the coronavirus lockdown, the government barred all kinds of public transport and prohibited the opening of public places till 3 May.

However, it allowed the functioning of industrial units located in rural areas from 20 April while observing strict social distancing norms.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the extension of lockdown till 3 May. India is presently going through an unprecedented complete lockdown from 25 March, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus .

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