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Lockdown, Disruptions & the New Normal

N.V. Balachandar, President - HR, Communication and CSR, Ashok Leyland and R Sivanesan, Senior Vice President, Quality, Sourcing and Supply Chain, Ashok Leyland speak to Manufacturing Today on how the company has been coping with the lockdown and its initiatives.

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Breakdown Assitance through ServiceMandi App
Breakdown Assitance through ServiceMandi App

Covid-19 has put the entire country (and more than half the world) under lockdown. How is your company utilising this time to introspect and up-skill employees?
At Ashok Leyland, firstly the health and safety of our employees are our top priority. We are constantly monitoring the situation and have taken several measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our people.

Our IT department has ensured that work from home is seamless for our employees. With this we have initiated quite a few digital learning courses as part of the Learning & Development initiatives of the organization. We also constantly share opportunities that are available from the world of learning for employees to undertake, like the 64 courses that Harvard has made available free online for the lockdown period. Other initiatives for our employees are Fitness, Yoga, Cooking, Photography, Music, Book Clubs and a 30-minute learning session, where top management leaders conduct short learning sessions on varied topics. This helps employees to interact and discuss mutual interests and connect virtually within the organization.


How are you supporting your customers in these difficult times, and what are some of the new and innovative ways you interact with them?
Re-affirming our brand promise of ‘Aapki Jeet. Hamari Jeet.’, we at Ashok Leyland have announced measures for our customers that would help them with business continuity during these difficult times.

We have extended the warranty and service period as follows -:

• All MHCV models – Warranty / Extended Warranty period expiring between 15th March, 2020 and 15th April, 2020 shall be extended by 2 months
• Free services due between 15th March 2020 and 15th April, 2020 shall be extended by 2 months for availing the service
• All LCV models – vehicles whose free service falls between 1st March 2020 and 15th April 2020, the same has been extended and can be availed up to 31st May 2020
• Vehicles whose warranty would expire between 1st March 2020 and 30th April 2020 has been extended up to 31st May 2020
• Extended warranty of vehicles, expiring between 15th March 2020 and 14th April 2020 has been extended up to 14th May 2020                                      

Apart from these service warranties, though our ServiceMandi, a digital initiative of Ashok Leyland provides roadside breakdown assistance. Along with HPCL, with whom we have already an association for en-Dhan fuel cards joined a task force. With these task force and along with the field executives of Ashok Leyland, contact the stranded drivers across the country through WhatsApp and phone to provide assistance.

• To help keep the wheels moving, ensuring the supply of essential items, Ashok Leyland is putting its digital roadside assistance tool, ServiceMandi, to full use. It is providing breakdown assistance to the trucks transporting essentials, making sure no truck is stranded owing to the breakdown
• Breakdown assistance for more than 120 vehicles carrying essential items were attended by ServiceMandi workshops. This includes all brands of commercial vehicles. Despite restrictions, permissions were obtained from concerned local authorities to reach and restore the vehicles
• The breakdown assistance helpline number is 1800-208-8800

Roadside assistance through the en-Dhan card, in tie-up with HPCL:
• Basic grocery kit consisting of rice/ Atta, dal, and other necessities to cook food, mask, hand sanitizers, and soap
• Safe parking space for trucks and shipment by offering access to HPCL bunks
• Availability of cash: Money is getting transferred quickly to the local HPCL bunk owner’s account, who in-turn withdraws the same and hands it over to the drivers
• ‘Here to Care’, the roadside assistance helpline number is 1800-266-3340
• Over 2000 drivers across the country have been supported through these initiatives.

Tell us about your efforts in aligning your production to current needs. (PPE, ventilators, other medical equipment, sanitisers, etc.)

While we are working on aligning production to the current needs, Ashok Leyland in association with the Department of Health and Family Welfare have extended the support to the community by;

1. Supplying protective items such as;
 3 ply masks – 5000 nos
 N95 masks – 2500 nos.
 Disposable gloves – 5000 nos.
 Liquid handwash – 500 litres
 Sanitisers – 100 litres
 Bottle with pump (300 ml) – 1000 nos.
 Bottle with flip (40 ml) – 1000 nos.
 Lizol disinfectant (5 litre cans) – 180 nos.
 Bodysuits for health service personnel – 300 nos.
 Saviour Chemguard – 30 nos.
 Splash goggles – 300 nos.

2. Deployed ten vehicles (8 Dost and 2 ICV) with drivers for emergency logistics operation for use by the health department in Chennai.

We have also extended our support by using our plant kitchens to prepare dietary needs for doctors, paramedical staff, civic and sanitary workers, health department officials, migrant labourers, drivers, and the local community. All these supplies will continue during the entire tenure of the lockdown period. 

Apart from these, the following measures were also taken:
• 200 sets of PPE Kit consisting of caps, gloves, mask, and apron was provided to Government Hospital doctors in Chennai
• 181 migrant labourers from UP, Bihar, and Maharashtra are provided food by the Hosur plant
• Basic essentials provided to doctors and paramedical staff by the Pantnagar plant
• Around 43000 Aavin flavoured milk tetra packs of 200ml each have been handed over to the Chennai Corporation Commissioner for the civic staffs

3. Public Transport support to Delhi Transport Corporation:
As soon as the nationwide lockdown was announced, all state governments immediately shutdown their public transport to avoid community spread of COVID-19. But Delhi Government took a bold step and announced that 50% of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses will be operational from 24th March’2020, to ensure those involved in essential services do not face problems. The DTC leadership team convened a meeting and decided to support DTC to provide roadworthy buses for the operations.

Ashok Leyland (AL) executives, DTC Service Team based at Delhi/NCR and along with a third party and dealer manpower are working round the clock, to ensure public transport connectivity is made available to all the essential service personnel required to fight against COVID-19.

• How do you plan to make up for lost time and sales, going forward?
While it is difficult to predict when the economy would start turning around and in turn help the CV sector sales. An economic stimulus package would be critical to kick-start the economic activity after this long period of disruption. Supply chains need to be re-started, migrant labour needs to come back to work (in a systematic and safe manner), and consumer demand needs to be triggered. Unless the eco-system through the value chain opens, a truck cannot be produced or sold.

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