SW: What affects has Pokarna/Quantra experienced so far from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Pokarna: The COVID-19 outbreak is a unique and unprecedented scenario for many businesses and at Pokarna Group we consider the present challenge as an opportunity to learn, evolve and reshape our operations for the future. We set-up a monitoring team in early March, and the fact that we have dedicated a safety and health team as a part of our organization was really helpful during these unprecedented times. Our team did a thorough assessment of the risks of exposure and issued clear guidelines on personal hygiene and social distancing for our people working across facilities to stay alert to symptoms.
Internally, what measures have you taken to protect your employees from the spread of the virus?
Pokarna: Some of the actions we took to reduce virus spread include:
• Introduced mandatory work from home for all office-based staff.
• Business travel inside and outside of India stopped.
• Compulsory temperature screening at entry and exit points of the production facilities and offices.
• Masks and sanitizers for employees and contractors and proper disposal of used PPEs.
• Implemented stringent personal hygiene standards mandated for the employees and visitors, including regular washing of hands with soap.
• Frequent sanitization of the production facilities and corporate office and deep cleaning where required.
• Social distancing during operations by clearly defined marks for all walking and operating areas.
• Disinfection of transport vehicles after every use, strict adherence to social distancing with organized seating plan.
• New work processes are put in place at production facilities and offices to ensure health adequacy and social distancing.
• Daily meetings of Environmental, Health & Safety team and leaders to understand the situation and align our plans and actions.
Our COVID-19 Response Team has put together detailed plans and actions to protect our employees and contractors, while ensuring business continuity. This includes, but is not limited to, detailed local risk assessments, travel and meeting restrictions, social distancing and remote working guidance, health screenings and enhanced workplace sanitation and personal hygiene guidance.
Has production slowed down at all due to this pandemic? If so, please explain.
Pokarna: In view of the lockdown announced by the government across the country, our operations also had to be temporarily shut in compliance with the directives/orders issued. Now, we have brought our operations back on-line and we remain focused on protecting our employees, supporting our customers during this difficult period and taking the actions necessary to preserve the company’s long-term future. All our factories are currently running as normal.
Is it now difficult to ship your material to North America?
Pokarna: We don’t see any difficulty in shipping material to North America. What we are seeing is higher lead times as the logistics chains are going through unusual disruption because of sailing cancellations.
Is there anything new you are doing to communicate with your customers during this time given the fact you are unable to see them at trade shows and other industry events?
Pokarna: We have been doing more and more video conferencing to get that “face-to-face” feel without actually being there in-person. We are also utilizing other collaboration tools for sharing pictures and other updates.
What is the main message that Pokarna would like to relay to its customers during this difficult time?
Pokarna: The relationships that we have built with our customers throughout the past 30 years are of paramount importance to us. Our supply chain is stable and our production staff is working in three shifts to fulfill orders. At the same time, we will do everything in our power to provide our valued customers with our products and services during this period.
Anything else that you would like to add?
Pokarna: Quantra is committed to helping a wider community deal with the unprecedented social and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. To support the communities where we live and work, we contributed initially, a sum of $300,000 to show solidarity and commitment to the efforts made by the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to control the spread of COVID-19 in the States. We have contributed about $150,000 each to the respective State’s Chief Minister Relief Fund. We have also contributed masks, hand gloves and sanitizers to the government hospitals and the State Administration Department who are leading from the front against the COVID-19.