Communicating across its nine factories and setting up milk collection points are some of the steps taken by dairy products major Thirumala as per COVID-19 guidelines for manufacture, to ensure supply does not get affected, a top official said. Thirumala was acquired by France-based dairy group Lactalis in 2014 and the company produces dairy products across nine manufacturing units in southern states.
Thirumala CEO Christophe Jouin said the company had taken precautions by communicating across factories, setting up milk collection points and issuing safety guidelines to employees. “The first step was to carry out checking of temperatures of employees before they enter the factory and maintaining social distancing norms during daily work, among others,” he told PTI.
The entire process, from the collection of milk till the distribution, has been enhanced and totally protected with the help of intensive comunication done well in advance, he said. The company collects milk directly from farmers, who are dependent on daily wages, despite quite low demand due to closure of a large number of shops, leading to excess stocks, he said. Another initiative was to ‘re-organise’ the distribution method of milk, coinciding with the lock-down stipulated timing by 6 AM while following all the precautions, he said.
On the challenges faced, he said the main issue was uncertainty of knowing which area was under lock-down and reduction in number of employees at factories due to even a single positive case and dependency on other factories to continue supply.
“The primary challenge being in a crisis mode from very beginning as every day we would have something to manage,” he said. On driving sales volumes, he said, “opportunities are quite limited due to restrictions and limited movement of sales force”. On how the company motivates its employees, particularly those engaged in supply chain, he said, all of them are aware and proud of the output and relevance of their jobs, especially during such difficult times.
“Due to their commitment and strength to fight during such a crisis, we have given bonuses to the front-line employees. We ensure that we are attentive towards our employees while also motivating them by taking protective measures to ensure safety of their colleagues and families”, he said. The company also disinfects all trucks moving in and out of the factories, machine lines, factory floors and storage rooms, he said.