News story

European manufacturers shaken by virus

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 ( #966 ) - Italy
Armanni Carrelli Elevatori has closed at least until March 23
Armanni Carrelli Elevatori has closed at least until March 23
As the coronavirus pandemic has intensified in Europe, Italy has been hit hardest, with a rising death toll and increased restrictions on public movement. The country has a number of forklift and attachment factories which are still in production, while others have halted work temporarily. Albino-based materials handling equipment maker Armanni Carrelli Elevatori has closed at least until March 23. The company's auto-response message currently says: "Following the Prime Minister's Decree, our company is putting in place the necessary measures to ... limit the spread of the infection, and safeguard people's health." While Italy's government has ordered all shops, bars and restaurants across the country to close, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said industries can stay open, "but with strict measures in place". Some manufacturers are still operating despite the difficult circumstances. Compact forklift maker Mariotti is among those still in operation. "The company had to reorganise the spaces and some internal procedures, but this did not have any consequence on our production processes, which, as always, are being carried out without delay," says business development manager Francesco Bruno. Bruno says Mariotti's supply chain is in good shape and the company has sufficient stock for the production of its forklifts for the next few months. "We have been monitoring our main supplier of parts and, so far, no delivery issue is (anticipated)." It's almost business as usual for attachments maker Bolzoni. In a public statement last week, Roberto Scotti, president and CEO of Bolzoni, said: "At Bolzoni Piacenza, we continue the manufacturing activity as scheduled, but we are working on a possible new organisation set-up to reduce the people contacts inside the factory and lower the risk to protect everyone's health." Bolzoni marketing manager Annalisa Castellini tells Forkliftaction News her company continues to function with the majority of head office staff working from home. "Production workers are working with masks, keeping the due distance from each other," she says, adding that the premises are regularly cleaned and disinfected. "Everything is going to be all right," she says, on an optimistic note. The continued activity in the forklift sector stands in stark contrast to Italy's automotive sector, where production has reportedly ground to a halt. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has suspended production at its FCA Italy and Maserati Subsidiaries. The temporary closures include facilities at Melfi, G. Vico (Pomigliano), Cassino, Mirafiori Carrozzerie, Grugliasco and Modena. Luxury car makers Lamborghini and Ferrari have also halted production in Italy. The coronavirus focus now shifts to France, where extreme measures were adopted on March 16 "to reduce contact and travel to the strict minimum throughout the territory ... for a minimum of 15 days". "We absolutely must limit travel, meetings, contacts. This applies in companies and administrations which must start from Monday, and for the next weeks, a massive action of organisation of telework to allow the greatest number to remain at home," Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said in a national address last week. The Manitou Group has closed its operations in France until March 31, with a spokesman explaining the closure includes all French operations except spare parts, customer support and some central functions. The closure was undertaken to limit the expansion of Covid-19 and in response to similar moves by partners, customers and suppliers. "The group is currently unable to determine the overall impact that this crisis will have on the financial full year," he adds. Similarly, Haulotte Group has halted production at its French manufacturing facilities in L'Horme, Creusot and Reims. Distribution and service activities are continuing "in strict compliance with the health measures required locally". A company statement just released says Haulotte has undertaken all health prevention measures at its distribution sites to allow operational continuity as necessary. "Haulotte Group is not in a position to date to determine the global impact that this health crisis of unprecedented proportions will have on our industrial, commercial and financial performance," says the statement. "You can count on the mobilisation and commitment of all our teams to implement the most appropriate solutions in this unprecedented context."