Audi will gradually initiate the restart of production at its plants in Europe during the coming weeks. In mid-March, the company announced the temporary suspension of production at its European sites. The background to the decision was supply bottlenecks and a drop in demand due to the corona pandemic. The upcoming regulated restart in the worldwide Audi production network together with suppliers and service providers will be coordinated with the Volkswagen Group. The main component of the restart is a comprehensive package of measures that focuses on the safety of employees. In this respect, Audi is following the guidelines of the Robert Koch Institute and the regulations of the health authorities of the respective country.
Following the suspension of production at all AUDI AG plants in Europe, it is now a matter of taking the first step back towards normality: “We will manage the restart as a joint European act,” said Board of Management Member for Production Peter Kössler. This is because supply chains and production and logistics processes are closely interlinked within the Group and with partners at the international level. Kössler continued: “The focus is on the employees, because they need a safe working environment. Audi teams of experts have therefore adapted processes with a view to health protection in consultation with the specialist departments and works councils. I would like to thank all Audi employees and our partners around the world for their flexibility and joint efforts in times like these.”
“On the way back to the first phase after the production shutdown, health precautions for the protection of the employees have the highest priority,” explained Chairman of the Works Council Peter Mosch. “The restart will be accompanied by a comprehensive package of measures to ensure that the employees’ health is protected.” This includes, for example, clear rules on distance and hygiene, a modified shift system to avoid contact, and the obligation to use mouth and nose protection in areas where distances of 1.5 meters are not possible. The company has also created physical barriers at critical workplaces. In door pre-assembly, for example, two employees work simultaneously on the same transport rack and stand directly opposite each other. Here, the employees themselves have developed a transparent barrier made of plastic sheeting.
Managers of production sections and groups, together with experts from occupational safety, health care, industrial engineering and the works council, have looked at each individual workplace, analyzed it and developed suggestions for improvement. Only with the agreement of all those involved is a workplace considered “corona-ready.” The workgroup also took a close look at the working environment: group spaces, factory gates, parking spaces and internal factory traffic, as well as catering and factory restaurants. Audi has developed appropriate solutions for all areas. The employees will be informed in writing about these measures in advance and will receive comprehensive safety instructions from their line managers when they restart their work, as well as regular updates in internal online media and through numerous information notices at the plants.
Comprehensive safety precautions and modified work regulations also apply at office workplaces. For example, there is the possibility of working from home in order to minimize the risk of infection. Above all, however, the restart affects the employees in the area of production.
Vehicle production at the Audi sites will be gradually ramped up from the end of April onwards according to a fixed plan. Engine production in Győr already started gradually ramping up again this week. For those employees at the factories in Germany who will only be able to resume their work fully in later phases of the restart, short-time working regulations will continue to apply until then.