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In an exclusive video interview hosted by CONSTRUCTION WORLD, Amit Gossain, Managing Director, KONE Elevator India, shares more on how the firm is coping with the current pandemic and lockdown, what it means for the supply chain, sectors expected to drive demand post-COVID, and more...
Coping with the lockdown: Firstly, the lockdown has been for the good of the country. Being a global company, as far as we at Kone is concerned, we are seeing what’s happening around us from different parts of the world. Of course, the real estate market has come to a halt. So we are we are trying to do a lot of things virtually. Another important thing is that we are ensuring our elevators and escalators, particularly in hospitals and high-rise buildings are in all other emergency services are running smoothly. We have about 2,000 technicians on the road day in and day out who are trying to rectify and ensure that all elevators working effectively and efficiently. Besides, we are also trying to learn the ways of virtual meetings. We have our technology people who are working and looking after all the aspects of technology, but more importantly, the 24 x 7 connected services. They are effectively able to gauge which elevators are about to fail, and accordingly, we try and fix them.
Supply chain disruption: Of course, there is a difference between emergency service and essential service. We are an emergency service, not under the essential service yet. But we have spoken to the government about this. It is essential to ensure hospitals are working, and so, the supply chain not working is not the right thing. We have spoken to the Tamil Nadu Government about this – and they have given us the permission to start work. So we have started production of emergency parts for elevators so that they keep running as well the process of elevators being manufactured gradually, but we will work with much less than 50 per cent staff to ensure social distancing. We need to also ensure social distancing during transportation and also ensure the safety of workers producing the parts and ensure they are all wearing all PPEs.
Import of materials: We all have components coming from overseas, from several countries including China. But right now, the elevator industry is almost at a standstill except for emergency parts, which we fortunately have stock of. So we are not relying on imports to manufacture. Having said that, in India, we are dependent on Indian supplies itself, rather than overseas. So therefore our reliance on imports is not as much and we can easily cope.
Sectors of focus post-COVID: Rightly, residential and all our real estate classes started picking up last year, and then this year it slowed down because of liquidity issues. What we see in the future is that there will be a lot of virtual working from home. I also think the world will change and we will see a lot of focus on Make in India. In the commercial sector, a lot of global companies will look at India as a destination for setting up offices.
The residential sector will take some time to come back because the government's Housing for All initiative may have to undergo a bit of a change. The government needs to ensure and kickstart the economy and real estate is a huge part and a huge employer of it.
Commercial real estate possibilities will be a big thing; the medical industry would be a big thing too. Residential will eventually come back because everybody needs a house, but it may take three or four months extra.
Innovations: We are trying to become a bit more innovative to see how elevators can be used more effectively with social distancing norms and with the buttons and are finding solutions to it.
Timeframe for the economy to pick up: I think it will be difficult to return to normalcy in the short term. I think the lockdown may open partially. People have by now learned that the lockdown was important and they are learning social distancing norms. So even when they start coming back to work, they will be careful; companies will be careful. I think it would take about three to four months for people to adjust a 100-per-cent, and in my view real estate and housing would take another four to five months beyond that to revive.
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