THE NEW ROUTINE AND THE CHALLENGES.
What began at the end of November 2019 with the report of a new type of lung disease in China, developed within a very short time into a pandemic that forced the whole world to hold its breathe.
The viral disease COVID-19, more simply referred to as the ‘coronavirus’, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, spread rapidly and reached even the most remote villages and regions worldwide. A pandemic for which neither the world’s governments nor the global economy were prepared – after all, they were dealing with an event of unprecedented proportions. Panicked hoarding spurred retail trade and unsettled the average consumer. As strong as the demand for consumer goods was, it fell in other areas. Everything that was not essential was suspended indefinitely. Borders were closed, and local and long-distance transport came to a virtual standstill. The consequences for the international economy? It is impossible to estimate. How should companies regardless of their size, deal with this situation?
DEUTZ Sets up Crisis Team
An internal crisis committee was formed at DEUTZ within a very short time, consisting of division managers, employees from the DEUTZ Safety team and the company physician. Top priority: Initiate measures to ensure safeguarding of the company interests and at the same time the health of the employees. Wherever possible, the first step was to move everyone to the home office. From that point on, conferences only took place virtually. Shift schedules were adjusted to minimise overlapping contact points of the employees in the production area. Business trips were stopped and protective masks were made available to employees at home and abroad. As a precaution, external visitors were no longer allowed into the plants.
Shutting down production became unavoidable
However,with increasing safety requirements from the government, DEUTZ also increasingly reached the limits of any possible implementation. While the home office solutions introduced at short notice were a measure that could be implemented quickly and without any problems, the minimum distance of 1.5 m required by the health authorities in the production area proved to be a real obstacle to daily work. ‘The health of our employees is the focus of our efforts. However, the preventive measures to maintain a minimum distance in the assembly area currently no longer allow efficient production. Therefore, we have decided to temporarily close large parts of our production’, explained DEUTZ CEO Dr Frank Hiller at the end of March. Following the subsidiaries in Italy and Spain, the German locations also stopped production on April 1. This was also DEUTZ’s reaction to the measures taken by its customers, who had already reduced their operations.
„Vision of Success 2020“
After three weeks, work in the production area could be resumed and customer demands could be reliably met. However, there is no question that three weeks of production stoppage will not leave DEUTZ unaffected. In order to additionally strengthen the financial stability of the company in times of the coronavirus crisis and to continue to forge ahead with the growth projects as planned, the shareholders decided to suspend dividend payments at the virtual general meeting, which was held for the first time in June. Furthermore, the DEUTZ Management Board decided to waive its variable remuneration for the year 2020. All executives also waived a large part of their variable remuneration for 2020. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the company also presented its Vision of Success 2020 – guidelines for success in the current financial year. ‘During the crisis we experienced once again how important transparency and good communication are, both externally and internally. Our employees are the most important driver of our company’s success, and it makes me proud to see how each individual has contributed and continues to contribute to overcoming this difficult situation. Our company will continue to act responsibly within our society and will make an important contribution in order to emerge stronger from the current situation when full production activity resumes’, emphasises Hiller.