As Covestro’s biggest investment project beyond Germany, the Covestro Integrated Site Shanghai (CISS) at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park mainly produces polycarbonate, polyurethane raw materials and coating raw materials for the Asia Pacific region. As polycarbonate is one of the raw materials for epidemic prevention supplies such as goggles and infrared thermal imagers, the CISS has been continuously busy since the Spring Festival this year, leveraging its own cutting-edge expertise to contribute to the fight against the epidemic.
As a company producing key supplies for the epidemic prevention and control in Shanghai, Covestro has increased the productive capacity of some related products since the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, by coordinating with its downstream manufacturers, the company has also donated to the front line a total of 150,000 pairs of protective goggles and 2,000 thermometers made from its polycarbonate materials.
（科思创向医疗机构捐赠的护目镜Protective goggles given away to medical institutions）
As the pandemic prevention and control is still salient, there has been a high demand in epidemic prevention equipment.
In another case, Covestro fulfilled a rush order for polycarbonate and thermoplastic polyurethanes from Hikvision, which needed the materials to produce infrared thermometers, which are in huge demand. During the emergency, staff from different departments worked together and managed in four hours to allocate the inventory, go through the financial procedures and complete the application for zero customs clearance fee. The first batch of supplies was delivered to the client in only 28 hours, including the delivery distance of 1,300 km.
“Such speed is inseparable from Shanghai's support for enterprises,” said Holly Lei, president of Covestro China. After the epidemic broke out, the Shanghai government issued 28 policy measures to support businesses; the transportation authority also rolled out several measures to facilitate freight transportation in the Yangtze River Delta; and the Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park also offered help to the company to solve its logistics and warehousing personnel shortage. “All these have been a strong boost for us to fight against the epidemic and resume our normal production.”
According to Lei, Covestro’s business involves thousands of logistics operators and drivers, including those working for its upstream and downstream companies. Amid the epidemic, all those personnel’s health declarations had to be collected and verified, a demanding job for Covestro’s logistics and security departments. Thanks to the administration committee of the Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park, thousands of personnel’s entry permissions could be dealt with immediately and smoothly.
On February 10, Covestro restarted operation and production like many other foreign companies in Shanghai. However, due to some logistics issues, there was some shortage in raw materials and barrels, somewhat affecting the production progress. As such, the production plan was modified five to six times, reducing production volumes on part of the production lines while ensuring customer demands.
At CISS, a shortage of staff happens sometimes because returning employees to Shanghai need to undergo home quarantine. To ensure the minimum number of people in normal production are available, according to Zhu Huifeng, deputy team leader of the coating raw material production line, the daily maintenance team in his department act as backup for the production team. Each production team has also selected three members to form a backup team. Once there is one member under quarantine, backups will be on duty right away. Special rooms have also been prepared for employees who feel uncomfortable at work. “These are all attempts and efforts to make resuming work as smooth as possible in this special time period. We always believe that there are always more solutions than difficulties,” said Zhu.
In order to ensure continuous production, emergency response policies have been delivered to employees in a timely manner through digital channels.
Accounting for around one fifth of Covestro’s global sales, China is the second largest market for the world-leading supplier of high-tech polymer materials. So far, the company’s production bases in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Qingdao, and Tianjin have fully resumed production, and all staff at CISS has been back to their posts. “2020 is full of challenges for enterprises, but we see local governments in China are controlling the epidemic through various measures. We believe that the difficulties are temporary. Covestro’s investment in China is long-term. We have also seen a long-term market demand for high-tech plastics, so our confidence and commitment to the Chinese market will not change,” added Holly Lei.