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When the nation went into lockdown, Mahindraites rose in solidarity with those in need of support – keeping factories and canteens running to deliver face shields, masks, aerosol boxes, meals, rations and more!
The year 2020 saw the world plunge into an unprecedented healthcare, economic and social crisis. In India, the coronavirus pandemic led to a country-wide lockdown and stretched healthcare resources to their limit. It also led to job losses and mass migration of labour.
As state machinery attempted to respond, the Mahindra Group was an able partner, reaching out to the most vulnerable with much needed relief items and quickly producing and distributing products that were in short supply. Mahindraites in every part of the organisation worked ceaselessly to mitigate the shock being felt by citizens, especially migrant labour who needed food and protective equipment.
Though it had never manufactured them earlier, the company quickly produced or arranged for protective equipment such as face masks, face shields and Aerosol boxes for frontline healthcare workers, who were the first line of defence in the pandemic. The equipment was distributed across the length and breadth of the country by the Group. Additionally, various factory locations opened their plant kitchens to provide cooked meals and distributed ration to marginalised and financially vulnerable people who had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
While ramping up to respond to the crisis, Mahindra employees faced many difficulties. The first hurdle was the procurement of quality medical grade parts. On the face shields front, the initial numbers were arranged locally by sourcing from a vendor. Subsequently they were manufactured at the plants with other Group companies joining hands in the initiative. Production of equipment was ramped up across all the major Mahindra plants i.e. Nashik, Zaheerabad, Haridwar, Chakan, Mohali, Pithampur, Rudrapur, Jaipur and Vadodara.
Soon, over 11,000 face shields were being made every day in the plants. Since the beginning of the lockdown, over 400,000 face shields have been distributed across India. The Mahindra Group distributed these to the police, hospitals and various government agencies. The hospitals that received masks and other PPE items from the Group include AIIMS and Deendayal Hospital (Delhi), and Wockhardt, Fortis, Kokilaben, Bhabha, Tata Memorial and KEM (Mumbai), amongst others.
The search for solutions led to many innovations and some alternative thinking. Saral Design, a start-up based in Navi Mumbai involved in the business of sanitary pads and related machinery, had reached out to the Mahindra Group to convert their sanitary pads machine to produce face masks. After the initial discussion, it was suggested that the task of manufacturing these should be taken up by the Auto and Farm Sector team of the Mahindra Group.
Work began on a war footing and the machines were transported to the factory on the fifth day of the nation-wide lockdown at 2am in the morning. Mahindra employees worked round the clock to produce as many masks as they could. Several critical parts, essential for conversion, were machined in-house in the tool room at the Kandivali plant. The 3-ply masks were put into production. The middle layer consisting of melt-blown non-woven polypropylene acts as a filter layer with bacteria filtration efficiency of 99.95%. It was sterilised and packaged in polyethylene to avoid any contamination in handling. Over 30,000 masks were produced daily. The ramp up was the result of automation that was done by in-house engineers in the Kandivali tool room in the Mumbai plant. Over 1.4 million face masks have been distributed across the country since the lockdown.
The innovation was not limited to India. Mahindra’s arm in the US – Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA) – innovated a uniquely designed Aerosol Box that found good acceptance in the medical fraternity. Taking a cue from this, a design contest was launched across the major plants of Mahindra in India to come up with the most efficient and effective design suitable for the country. Several entries were submitted at the plant level, and one design from each plant was evaluated by an eminent jury. The entire process took all of 72 hours. Since then, more than 600 units of the newly designed aerosol box have been used across 30 hospitals in Maharashtra, Telangana, Delhi, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, and at the District Magistrate office in Haridwar, in Uttarakhand.
The pandemic had severely impacted the migrant labour community. Most of them were daily wage earners whose income dropped to zero when the lockdown was announced. Very soon, they were short of food and other essentials. Mahindra Group decided to open the canteens at all the plants of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) to cook and supply food on a daily basis for the migrant labour. All the 17 kitchens were working 24 hours a day, preparing and distributing meals to the migrant labour. They were able to cater to 9000 people daily. The Group over the period of the pandemic impact managed to distribute 4.2 Lakh meals across locations.
During the pandemic when most of the country was in lockdown, a record 6,000 man-days were clocked across Mahindra factories as employees volunteered to reach out to those in need. The Group through its commitments and actions, showcased the spirit of Rise for Good which is a call to action to do good and make the world a better place.
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