As every manufacturer knows too well, the Coronavirus pandemic is posing a very real threat to the industry. While the CDC advises that U.S. workers should stay home whenever possible, there is no “work from home” option for factory workers.
According to a recent survey by National Association of Manufacturers, more than 53% of its members expect to make operational changes as a result of the crisis, and nearly 80% are bracing for a negative financial impact.
One universal concern: that work stoppages will result in widespread supply chain disruptions. More than one-third of NAM respondents report that they’re already having trouble securing supplies. This may have a particularly damaging impact in sectors where consumer demand is already escalating.
Right now, proactive manufacturers are seeking ways to maintain or even increase production, while protecting their employees’ health and keeping watch on the bottom line. Some manufacturers have already instituted operational changes, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
So, how can you balance these sometimes-competing objectives during these unprecedented times? Darwin was right: survival lies in your ability to adapt to rapidly-changing conditions. Now is the time to be flexible, adaptable, and creative. And to be open to new solutions that might have seemed absurd or impossible just a few weeks ago—such as these.
7 Ways to Combat Coronavirus’s Impact on Your Operation
In the last few weeks, we’ve all become acquainted with the health necessity of “social distancing”—i.e., avoiding group gatherings and maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals. Experts tell us it’s critical to preventing the spread of Coronavirus, although it may be highly challenging in some factory environments.
On the other hand, you may find you really can increase the physical distance between workers, by implementing some of these straightforward strategies:
- Staggering shifts: By creating a 30-minute gap between shifts that previously overlapped, you can reduce the number of workers congregating around doors and time clocks at the start and end of shift.
- Creating physical barriers: By closing existing doors between various areas of the plant or erecting new barriers, you can limit the number of workers in any given space.
- Restricting use of common areas: You can also assign workers in given areas to use only designated coffee machines, vending machines, bathrooms, etc., which limits the number of users and makes them easy to identify, if necessary.
- Retooling production lines and equipment spacing: It’s not always possible, but it’s worth exploring ways to create more space between workstations, so workers are no longer shoulder-to-shoulder.
In addition, there are steps you can take to preserve ongoing business activities, including:
- Expanding video conferencing capabilities: While there’s nothing like in-person sales calls and client meetings, they’re just not happening now—and video conferencing is the next best thing. Conference calls are a solid alternative, but video conferencing will literally keep your sales and service teams faces in front of customers and prospects.
- Offering flexible scheduling to workers who need it: If you’re losing workers due to school and daycare closings or reductions in public transportation, allowing flexible scheduling will only help keep your production on target, but boost your workers’ morale and loyalty.
- Appealing a potential business shutdown, if warranted: Some cities have already issued shelter-in-place orders; others are considering them. Each has its definition of “essential” businesses (i.e., those that can stay open) and “non-essential” businesses (i.e., those that can’t). Even if you don’t directly manufacture an essential consumer product like food, if you make a product that’s used by essential service providers—such as healthcare organizations and first responders—you may be able to secure an exemption.
How Amper Is Helping Manufacturers During this Crisis
At Amper, our goal is to democratize data for all manufacturing companies, big and small. We make it easy for manufacturers and their people to access and understand their own production data, so they use it to make better-informed business decisions.
It’s never been more essential for manufacturers to run lean, efficient operations—and to let go of systems and practices that no longer serve them well.
Ask us how we can help you leverage your operational data, intelligently and affordably, to protect your business, workforce, and bottom line during these challenging, rapidly-changing times.