When we planned Tyre Testing as a special focus subject for this edition, we never expected that the “Testing” part would attain a new dimension. It did and it came out of the blue. The “Testing” has now gone beyond tyres and even the tyre industry. It has brought to include the entire global economy. That is what the COVID 19 pandemic has done to the world and humanity at large.
The corona virus havoc has changed the way everything has been rolling so far in the world, let alone tyres. Its human toll has crossed over 170,000 and is still counting. Global economy, which is used to periodic slowdowns and crashes and depressions, has not seen anything like this in recent history. Even in the past, when epidemics and pestilences spread across societies, the havoc was regional. It hardly crossed borders. This time, a virus has shown how meaningless borders and tariffs and regulations are.
Globally the tyre industry ground to a standstill. Factories shut down. Inventories posed huge question marks. The business just stopped. The only possible thing to do is to stay home, wait and watch. More than three months into the crisis, there are distant signs of action. Companies are planning resumption of production in one way or the other, because business matters as also lives.
This is the ideal opportunity to take a pause and see what all scenarios can unfold when the scary curves flatten out. The big thinking brains would wonder how, in future, similar crises could be tackled, how new business models could create situations where nothing stops the wheels from turning. This is the time to wonder how much valuable human lives are when corporate conceptualisers plan their next products.
However much one talk about Artificial Intelligence, Industry 4 or Automation, there is life beyond factory walls. Natural human life has nothing AI about it! The importance of health care, medical research and medical equipment cannot henceforth be overlooked. Mind you, many closed automobile manufacturers were called in to make ventilators for hospitals while their assembly lines rested.
The COVID kind of crisis may be the first of its kind to global economy. But then, that’s no excuse. There is always a first time! The answer to the “Now What” question will define the future course of action.
Read the April-May issue of Tyre Trends here.