DALTON, Ga.—Sun Tyre & Wheel Systems factories in India continue to operate at 100 percent, but the latest wave of COVID-19 certainly is impacting the company and the entire country, one company official said.
Sun, which has four off-the-road tire plants in India, has instituted a variety of safety precautions allowing manufacturing to continue, said Ken Cooper, senior vice president of the company's North America operations.
"They test the factory workers every day and throughout the day for temperatures. They've put a lot of (physical) divisions within the plant to separate the workers," Cooper explained May 14. "We are maintaining as big of a distance as possible within the plants."
Sun also routinely sprays disinfectant throughout their facilities to help keep their workers safe, he said.
"The biggest impact that it's made is that all the upper management are still at home. They are talking to each other online or on the phone or in Zoom meetings. Most of the non-essential office people are at home. Some of the essential office people are at work, but they are very distanced," Cooper said.
Employees are being given as much time off as they need to attend funerals or help with the care of sick family members, he added.
"I would say there is not one person within the white-collar part, both the white collar and blue collar, that hasn't had a family member die because of this pandemic. It's been really rough in India as you well know," he said.
Sun Tyre has about 800 total employees, including about 400 at four factories in India. The Chennai, India-based company also operates three factories in Sri Lanka that have not been as impacted as much by COVID-19 compared with India facilities, Cooper said.
The senior vice president is based at the company's North America headquarters in Dalton, where Sun Tyre also has a warehouse. Sun Tyre also has a warehouse in Los Angeles.
Factories in Sri Lanka also have instituted safety precautions including temperature checks. But those locations have not needed to install physical barriers between employees, he said.
While the COVID-19 virus has not directly caused work to slow in India at this point, there have been some indirect challenges due to transportation difficulties being experienced around the world.
Sun Tyre relies on steel imported from China for its products and there has been some difficulty with that supply chain. Other raw materials needed for the company's OTR tires are sourced domestically.
"We are experiencing tremendous problems just like everybody else. But they are not as much COVID-related as they are this port situation. We are struggling just like everybody else to get containers shipped and arrived on time. But that has nothing to do with COVID," Cooper said.