After shutting down production at nearly 100 Bosch locations worldwide this month, the company is systematically preparing for a gradual ramp-up of manufacturing. “We want to ensure reliable supplies to meet our customers’ demand as it gradually returns, with a view to helping the world economy recover as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, at the company’s annual press conference. “Our goal is to synchronize the ramp-up of production and secure supply chains, especially in automotive production. We have already achieved this in China, where our 40 or so local plants are producing again and the supply chains are stable. We are working hard to do the same in our other regions.” To make a success of ramping up production, Denner said that the company is putting numerous measures in place to ensure that associates are adequately protected against coronavirus infection. Bosch is also committed to taking a coordinated, joint approach with customers, suppliers, authorities, and employee representatives.
Helping contain the coronavirus pandemic
“Wherever possible, we want to contribute our expertise to efforts to contain the pandemic, for instance through our newly developed rapid Covid-19 test and our Vivalytic analysis device,” Bosch CEO Denner said. “Demand is huge. We’re doing everything we can to significantly increase production, and will increase capacity five-fold over our original plans by the end of the year,” he continued. Bosch intends to produce more than a million rapid tests in 2020, and to increase this to three million next year.In addition to existing laboratory tests, the Vivalytic analysis device is to be used initially in hospitals and doctors’ offices, where it will be used primarily to protect medical staff, for whom the rapid availability of test results in less than two-and-a-half hours is crucial. The rapid test is already being delivered to European customers with a “research use only” label, and can be used following validation. Bosch expects to have a CE mark for the product by the end of May. An even faster test, which can reliably detect Covid-19 cases in less than 45 minutes, is in the final stages of development. “All our work in this field is guided by our ‘Invented for life’ ethos,” Denner said.
Bosch has already started production of face masks. Even now, thirteen Bosch plants in nine countries – from Bari in Italy, to Bursa in Turkey, to Anderson in the United States – have taken the initiative and are making such masks for local requirements. In addition, the company is currently setting up two fully automatic production lines at its Stuttgart-Feuerbach location with further lines to follow at its German Erbach location as well as in India and Mexico. “It took our special-purpose machinery unit just a few weeks to design the necessary machinery,” Denner said. Bosch has also made the designs available to other companies free of charge. This means the company will be able to manufacture more than 500,000 masks per day. The masks are intended to protect Bosch associates at plants worldwide. Furthermore, the aim is to make them available to third parties as well. This will depend on gaining the appropriate country-specific approvals. In addition, Bosch is producing 5,000 liters of disinfectant each week in Germany and the U.S. for its associates in American and European plants. “Our people are doing great work here,” Denner said.
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