Restart preparations for the Magna Seating Vigo plant in Porrino, Spain included all of the safe- practice protocols and processes found in the Smart Start playbook, and one unusual one: no hugging.
“The culture in Spain is friendly and there is more physical contact between people compared to other countries,” explained Irene Fernandez, the facility’s environmental health and safety manager. “maintaining social distance was a challenge, therefore no physical contact became a significant part of our social-distance training, even though it felt strange at first.”
The 530 employees at the division, which includes stamping, welding, assembly and painting of seat structures, have adjusted well to the changes, now greeting each other with a wave or a nod, and the restart is a “success story,” said Rainer Behrens.
Rainer wears two hats: he is the managing director of Vigo Seating and the vice president of structural products Europe for Magna Seating. He supervised the restart of Vigo Seating and four other plants, including three in the Czech Republic and one in Morocco.
He credits a “no panic” mindset and a focus on keeping calm with helping the plants overcome the challenges of the pandemic.
“Crisis management for me is not an emergency,” Rainer explained. “Sometimes people act immediately and that can be a problem. In a crisis, you should digest first, understand and then define countermeasures, act and monitor. If you act without understanding, you can make mistakes and create chaos.”
Magna offers “great tools” for managing in a crisis, especially throughout the supply chain, he said. These include everything from WorkSmart technology, such as Microsoft Teams and Webex, to a vast global network that provides support and guidance. Effective communication proved to be a critical component of a smooth relaunch.
While he is typically based in Porrino, Rainer ended up directing the restart of the five plants from a home office in Sailauf, Germany. His wife Sabine Behrens, a Magna senior purchasing manager, also worked remotely.
“We learned to be more flexible, because in a crisis, you have no choice,” Rainer said. “In the end, we accomplished a lot. I am proud of my team that has made all this possible”
RAINER BEHRENS, Vigo Seating managing director and Magna Seating Europe vice president of structural products and his wife SABINE BEHRENS, Magna senior purchasing manager, on their first flight back to Spain after the lockdown