Skoda’s purchasing and logistics races to help India fight the pandemic

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 08 Jun 2021


In line with its commitment, announced on May 12, to provide financial resources and Covid relief supplies worth a total of one million euros (Rs 8.2 crore) to India, Skoda Auto in association with the Volkswagen Group, has begun shipping supplies to India.

This includes material aid that was delivered to India in two airplanes. The first consignment consisted mainly of medical equipment, such as 8,500 Oxymizer pendant cannulas that can increase blood oxygenation by up to 75%. The second load contained an oxygen generator and several hundred oxygen cylinders.

“The humanitarian situation in India continues to concern us. We are in daily contact with our Indian friends and hope that the situation will improve soon,” says Thomas Schafer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Skoda. Skoda staff in India have also helped to identify exactly what kind of help their country needs most at the moment and what will therefore be included in the shipment.

Looking for a plane
Skoda’s purchasing and logistics teams worked very hard to find and transport the humanitarian material to the pandemic-stricken region as quickly as possible. “Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director of Skoda Auto Volkswagen India, also took part in the coordination meetings, helping choose the equipment that would be of greatest benefit to India,” said Zbynek Durovec from the Skoda team responsible for the Indian region.

“Due to the restrictions in place, organising air transport was a challenge. We had to get hold of an aircraft that could take an oxygen generator the size of a shipping container. In the end, we got hold of an IL-76 with a rear loading ramp. But this aircraft needed special permission in India,” says Jiri Kettner, Transport Manager in Skoda Logistics. 

“In order to ensure that the flight, which takes around 30 hours including a stopover for refuelling, went without a hitch, the experts had to calculate the generator’s centre of gravity so that it was optimally positioned in the aircraft,” added Tomas Nevole, International Logistics Project Manager at Skoda.

A race against time
Time was of the essence. India needs assistance now, but most technologies such as generators or cryogenic tanks currently have a delivery time of at least four months. Even so, around 10 employees managed to get one of the largest types of mobile oxygen generators – specially adapted for use in India by Primetec – ready for shipment incomparably sooner, in just a matter of weeks. “We managed to get the cylinders delivered just as quickly. The Indian Red Cross will then distribute the material in India in line with local needs,” says Matej Ondrak from the purchasing department.

And what is the message to colleagues in India from those involved in this express project? “Stay safe!” Matej Ondrak says on behalf of everyone. “We hope that the pandemic can be tamed as quickly as possible and life returns to normal. I hope that the help provided by Skoda will contribute to this,” adds Tomas Nevole.