Factory sandbox keeping Thai supply chains running

The Thai government has launched a “factory sandbox” program to test, vaccinate and isolate workers so that manufacturers can keep global supply chains up and running. The program will cover as many as 3 million workers.

The factory sandbox initiative is aimed at manufacturing plants with at least 500 workers. Keeping the factories running will “build confidence for both Thai and foreign investors at a time when supply chains in other countries are shutting down,” the government mentioned in a written statement.

Thailand’s role in global supply chains is not often apparent to consumers around the world. But the Kingdom is a major manufacturer of many crucial components such as computer hard disk drives, various automobile parts and other electronic goods and parts. If those factories were to shut down, it could disrupt global supply chains.

Food security could also be affected. Thailand is Asia’s only net food exporter, and processing plant shutdowns could reduce food supplies to other countries.

The government said that the manufacturing plants targeted under the initiative contributed roughly $21 billion to the economy. Since early April, more than 500 clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks have been detected at factories around the Kingdom.

The country had largely kept the coronavirus under control until the advent of the delta variant, which has led to the fourth wave of outbreaks. Different measures and schemes have been applied to effectively manage the situation.

The sandbox concept is being used successfully for tourism in the context of COVID-19. Starting with the island of Phuket in July, several Thai islands and resorts are now welcoming fully vaccinated tourists while keeping them separate from most of the local population.