It has been about a month and a half since vehicle production stopped in most parts of the world. As some countries seem to have curbed the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, industries have begun firing their engines back up.
Mercedes-Benz (MB) is one such manufacturer who has done so. But they’ve actually restarted production lines earlier than this article. As of April 20, the engine and component plants of MB in Untertürkheim, Hamburg, and Berlin hummed back to life. Just last week, the MB car plants in Bremen and Sindelfingen followed suit, and on May 4 (a few hours from now in Germany), the Rastatt plant is also scheduled to restart production.
But what of its employees and the worldwide warning of a possible resurgence of coronavirus transmission and infection? Mercedes-Benz officials have said that they are taking all the necessary precautions to take care of everyone in their ranks. New hygiene and cleaning standards have been introduced, and these include regulations to maintain a 1.5-meter distance between people, and the required use of masks to cover the mouth and nose of all workers.
"Together with the whole team, I am glad that we are gradually restarting our production in a coordinated manner. Flexibility is what counts here: the flexibility of our plants is one of our focal strategic topics in production and it helps us in this restarting phase now. Our first priority is to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide a safe working environment for our employees, suppliers, and service providers. We are producing in compliance with extensive safety measures and we are increasing our production step by step," said Jörg Burzer, member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG, Production and Supply Chain Management.
The re-opening of Mercedes-Benz’s factories aim to address the needs of their factories outside of Germany. From engines and components to build in China, and engine management systems, axles, and even batteries bound for other continents, this is a welcome reboot into the proverbial “new normal” for the industry and the world.
It does beg the question, though: while cars can (or are) now continue to be produced, what does the automotive and transportation really look like after COVID-19? The jobs of hundreds, even thousands of people who work in factories the world over are of course invaluable, but does the real risk of getting infected justify the re-opening of production lines worldwide?
Of course, we can’t answer that with any degree of certainty for now. But if factories abroad strictly observe their safety measures, it might actually work. With the PH industry already raring to get back on all pistons, maybe we could pick up a thing or two from Mercedes-Benz. If they’re confident enough in their measures, then they probably know what they’re doing, right?