How Skypack kept manufacturing during lockdown despite challenges

Faridabad-based Skypack is one of the few flexible packaging, Tubes and Printing companies to remain functional during the lockdown. Yet, it was not business as usual, as Naveen Talwar, Director marketing, Skypack, told PrintWeek.

27 Apr 2020 | By Rahul Kumar

Naveen Talwar, director marketing, Skypack

“The four weeks has been extremely challenging,” Talwar said. Yet, he mentioned the support offered by the authorities. Skypack supplies essential food and medical packaging, so local authorities, especially DC Office, DIC, Police, were proactive in giving the company permissions. “I was amazed how quickly permissions were granted by the authorities. On the day of Bharat Band, police could be seen active on duty and by the end of the day, we had permissions.”

Talwar said this is also because the company makes Packaging material for hospital supplies like films for packing Syringes, tubes for Hand Sanitizers which will help fight Covid-19. In addition to this packaging for essential foods : Dairy, Atta, Rice etc. “So we have been working since day one of the lockdown with some restrictions and are following all safety norms as laid down by Government,” he adds.

However, this doesn’t mean that things were normal. Talwar said in the first seven days, police was doing their job and did not allow free movement of workers to factory. So for their safety first week itself we started dedicated Buses with upto 35% occupancy for our workers & staff. Meanwhile, everything else was shut, including all suppliers; all customers except few; all transporters; all banks; and all container depots for imports and exports.

“We got only 20% of workers and 20% of the staff,” he said. “So for the first seven days while the rest of the world was busy watching news, sinking into new realities, deciding if they should to pay to their workers or how much salaries to cut, we were encouraging our workers to come to work, assuring them of safety, jobs, extra compensations, etc.”

To do so, Skypack implemented a lot of protocols of safety on first week itself, including work from home for non essential staff, Hand Sanitisers at entry, Social distances in work places and canteens, Compulsory sanitisation of entire factory before start of shift, Bus pickup for workers, Temperature check at Entry & Exit.

Talwar said initially, workers were scared to come due to the strong warnings by Prime Minister. “The mood was to shut factory for two weeks and wait for the virus to go away. But I knew from Day 1 that the virus was not going anywhere and 21 day lockdown is just the beginning for longer term restrictions . So sooner we streamlined safety protocols and our supply chain the better we will be. Moreover, initial days of infections are relatively safer, as less people are on streets. But the mood among team was exactly opposite. There was so much fear and rightly so, this lockdown came a shock to everyone” he added.

To get the supply chain going, Skypack from 1st day itself also had to push the suppliers to work, encouraged them to get permissions from their DC office as it’s for essential medical & food packaging . “They got permissions. We had to literally send trucks to collect raw materials. Trucks cannot go empty without something essential go in. And it cannot return empty. So planning logistics for the first 10 days was a nightmare,” Talwar said.

Kick-starting imports and exports for essential items was also a challenge. “My team had to bypass all CHA/ middle men and literally speak directly to the people at port to get stuff done. I am also amazed that how cooperative and understanding they were. By end of first week, we were importing and exporting,” he added.

Thirty days later, Skypack is working in “New normal” , but Talwar said the staff & workers knows this is a new reality where safety is paramount and they are following all Government laid down safety protocols.

“We are taking safety precautions but risk will always be there,” he said. “The chance of someone contacting Covid-19 will always be there. And more we come closer to opening up industries, more the risk of disease spreading. So we have setup a business continuity plan that despite infection we can manufacture with least possible impact. We have also ensured that there’s enough liquidity so that we can pay our supplier partners who have supported us at this time.”

And about health care, as a company catering to food, medical items, Talwar said, most of the systems are already in place. “All our employees are insured. They have access to doctors nearby. We have focused on hygiene and safety and have made a lot of investments prior to the lockdown,” he said.

“I must thank my team who did a tremendous job in initial days to get things in order and due to this we were able to assure our existing customers of just in time supplies, assist new clients who wanted to supply essential products but were not getting packaging”.

Talwar’s suggestion to the government in dealing with Covid-19? “Protocols are still not clear what will happen to companies if Covid-19 is detected. I am not referring to potential FIR, etc, but if Covid-19 is detected in workplace or factory, then for how long the company can remain quarantined, how will it open, for how long the quarantine of workers has to be maintained, what about alternate shift workers who have not come in contact with affected? A complete clarity will be appreciated. Right now many companies are struggling to start again. Once they start, they will start thinking from this point of view,” he concluded.