*All images used belong to FCA's Sevel Plant in Italy.
With conditions in Europe slowly regaining normalcy, major automakers like Ducati & FCA today resumed production activity at select sites in the country after the Italian government gave the green light to all businesses deemed strategic for the national economy.
Ducati has opened the gates of its Borgo Panigale factory in Bologna. The production activity has begun and will be expanded in a phased manner. The 'first phase' only involves the return of core production line workers (such as workshop employees, engine assembly workers & final motorcycle assembly workers) and the R&D department. All other employees who are not physically required at the plant shall, however, continue to work remotely from home (those employed in the commercial, marketing, IT, personnel management, finance, purchasing and logistics areas).
Apart from the obvious use of high-spec safety gear at all times, Ducati has also introduced two seven-hour work shifts instead of a single eight-hour shift to reduce the number of workers present in the plant at a given time and minimise contact among them. The cafeterias in the plant will also have to follow strict social distancing norms, such as offering only one seat for every four chairs present.
Sharing his thoughts on the resumption of production, Claudio Domenicali (CEO - Ducati) said, 'It is essential to pay close attention to strict compliance with safety procedures: the virus has not disappeared. The work done jointly with the Emilia-Romagna Region has been important....the two-wheel market is highly seasonal, and the stop to production in March and April has already had negative effects on sales... in Germany, dealers have been open for a week and we already have a major shortage of product... it will be an extremely difficult year but starting up again is still a beginning; we have a lot of orders for the Streetfighter V4, for the Multistrada GT and the Panigale V2...I want to thank all Ducati employees who have patiently and collaboratively managed this very anomalous phase and are supporting us in the management of the restart.'
Similarly, FCA too restarted its production ops at the Sevel Plant in Atessa, Italy. However, unlike Ducati, FCA has recalled most of its 6,000+ workforce in one go. To facilitate the Sevel Plant, FCA also resumed operations at supporting components supply facilities in Cassino, Pomigliano, Termoli & Mirafiori.
However, the working conditions, for the foreseeable future, have adapted to a 'new normal' standard everywhere, which involve strict adherence to principles of social distancing, use of protective gear at all times (such as gloves, masks, and face shields), regular symptom monitoring (using thermal cameras and contactless thermometers scattered throughout the facility) and regular disinfection of the workstation, machinery & the entire production facility at large.