March 12, 2020: Lead battery companies in Italy are doing what they can to keep going amid the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak in the country, which is completely locked down with the highest number of cases the disease in the world after China.
As we issued the bulletin, Italy had announced it was closing shops and bars. Worldwide, the number of cases diagnosed was up to 130,000, although the true figure is likely to be far higher, and 4,751 deaths had been recorded.
The Italian government has closed down the whole country, placing restrictions on social interactions and shutting down schools and universities.
But the battery firms Batteries International spoke to said were continuing their operations as well as they could, following the government’s advice and staying open where possible.
“The situation is very critical,” said Daniele Silla, proposal manager with Engitec Technologies, which is based in Milan, northern Italy, one of the first regions to be affected.
Engitec designs, engineers and manufactures equipment, carries out research and development, procures materials of OEM manufacturing and manages projects for its clients.
“As an engineering company, Engitec is currently operating at full capacity,” said Silla.
“Thanks to the organization of the activities, most of the employees are now working remotely. We have a good internal network that allows us to constantly be in strict contact, and we organize conference calls and daily updates to carry on the activity in the most suitable way.
“The company has provided all our employees with the necessary devices for activities, such as laptops and mobile phones. This could be a good opportunity for Italian companies to start discovering this way of smart working.
“For production, our workshop is operational, we are working by carrying out rigorously the measures given by the authorities issued on March 8.
“From my point of view, the most critical point is that we are unable to travel and meet clients. For this reason we are trying to establish a good atmosphere and positive feelings with existing and potential clients by organizing video conferences and conference calls. Clients are perfectly understanding the situation.
“On site erection and assembly activities have been frozen for the moment, but we are giving remote assistance and instructions to allow clients to go ahead with operations.
“We are taking all the necessary measures to face all possible future scenarios, such as the complete shutdown of offices and workshops by minimizing the impact these restrictions have on ordinary activities.”
Battery formation firm OM Impianti, also in northern Italy, is carrying on as before, says manager Melissa Maggioni.
“We have a lot of space in the warehouse and offices so we can maintain the right working distance from each other and we are asking people who have flu or cold symptoms to stay at home.
“Some people are taking time off as a holiday but we are working as always. From a production point of view we don’t have any problems, and with supplies we are not affected because we don’t use components from China — ours are from Europe.
“We are not experiencing any delays but it could happen and we are looking at the situation as it develops all over the world.
“It’s something completely new, we are not used to having instructions from the government on our social lives and people are definitely scared, especially if they are working in small offices. But we think the situation will will peak very shortly.”
A spokesman from Hoppecke, near Milan, said production had not been affected at all. “We are continuing to work and following the instructions from the authorities about washing hands, keeping distances and working remotely if necessary,” he said.