From the Frontline: MAN Truck & Bus UK MD Thomas Hemmerich discusses how COVID-19 has impacted his business

Will Shiers
April 2, 2020

MAN Truck & Bus UK was well prepared for the Coronavirus outbreak, and consequently is operating at full capacity today.

UK MD Thomas Hemmerich told Commercial Motor that the company learned lessons from its Chinese and Italian operations, which experienced the outbreak ahead of the UK. As a result it was able to put contingency plans in place well ahead the official government lockdown.

“Three weeks ago, a while before Mr Johnson announced the lockdown, we decided to do a business continuity test, in order to find out how resilient our business is,” explained Hemmerich. “For two days we shut down the whole company and figured out if we were able to work from home or not.” He said the exercise proved fruitful, as it revealed a few shortcomings, all of which were rectified quickly.

During the two-day exercise, all of the dealerships implemented a shift plan. While there was initially some doubts as to how well it work, Hemmerich said the staff embraced the concept, and the scheme is working well today. “We run two shifts, and they don’t met each other,” he explained, referring to both technicians and admin staff. “As one shift leaves, the second shift wait in their cars while the building is deep-cleaned. We are so afraid of cross-contamination. After two weeks it is working perfectly. I am super proud of how our guys have adjusted.”

The same forward-planning was also applied to spare parts. Under normal circumstances two CEVA trucks bring spares from Germany to the Swindon central spare parts department. However, for two days at the beginning of March this was increased to seven trucks a day. “Everyone stocked-up in our own retail dealerships, our private capital dealerships and in our central spare parts department,” said Hemmerich. “Actually we overstocked, which is good right now. Obviously the cost was huge, but I don’t care about cost right now. We have a responsibility to keep the wheels turning, to get food into the supermarkets and emergency supplies into hospitals. It’s imperative that the supply chains don’t fail.”

In addition to supporting the welfare of its staff and the industry in general, Hemmerich said MAN is doing whatever it can do help customers who have been forced to park-up vehicles. “We have had a tsunami of requests from customers, and we have discussed them case by case with our finance partner Volkswagen Financial Services,” said Hemmerich, who explained that options include the pausing R&M contracts and implementation of payment holidays.

About the Author


Will Shiers

Will Shiers has held an HGV licence since the age of 21, and has been writing about commercial vehicles for the past 25 years. He started his career as technical editor on Motor Transport, before taking on the editorship of Truck & Driver. Since 2011 he has been the editor of industry leading weekly publication Commercial Motor. Will is the UK jury member of the International Truck of the Year.

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