Cheetah Hydraulics

14 Jan, 21 Insights

Manufacturing During Difficult Times

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Last year was challenging for everyone, especially for manufacturers.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused some serious operational challenges in the manufacturing world. Some companies managed to deal with these crises by adjusting their process and investing in technologies that will make that adjustment easier, while others completely shut down their factories because they couldn't face those challenges.

Because this is a specific industry and can't be done from homes, company owners must find new ways to protect the plant workers and bring social contact to the minimum. Company owners must make sure that all hygiene requirements are met; they must ensure their workers wear masks all the time, and so on. They can also set up night shifts, automate and digitalize the ordering process, or something else that would help with social distancing.

Three main actions can help business owners adjusting to the "new normal":

  1. Protect the workers: Do everything that is in your power to protect your workers. This could mean that you have to standardize your operating processes and get new tools that will make your and your workers' lives easier. Make sure you have the proper communication with your workers to build their confidence and trust. Don't forget that this pandemic has its effects on workers' mental health as well.
  2. Manage risks and make sure the business keeps going: Yes, it's a challenge for everyone. However, you must minimize the risks and make sure your business keeps going. 
  3. Manage distance working: Some of your workers have to be on-site, but you and some of your other workers (such as administration) can do your job remotely. Learn how to stay focused and productive and how to influence and support your workers while keeping a physical distance from them. 


1. Protect the workers

Your workers should be your priority. Unfortunately, you won't be able to control this virus completely and eliminate outbreaks. However, you have to do everything that you can do. This is not an easy job, but you will have to give your employees guidelines, a comprehensive set of policies, provide all the necessary protection equipment, and so on. When the outbreaks happen, make sure that employees who were in contact with the one who has the virus all self-isolate them in the critical incubation phase. Ensure your workers can have hygiene routines, which means that soaps and hand sanitizers should constantly be available. Don't forget about their mental health. Quaranteen and fear can cause some serious damage. If you can, provide your workers with professional counseling. Some companies offer their workers some additional perks during these tough times, such as subscriptions to certain relaxation and leisure services. 


Aim for physical distance 

This situation is lasting for almost a year now, and it could last for a little longer. That is why a business owner must think long-term. By this moment, most of us already made some changes and adapted to a "new normal "as much as we could. Of course, there is always room for improvement. 

Some examples of good practices would be to measure each worker's temperature every time they come to work, keep track of the workers' symptoms, and travel information. Also, make sure your workers don't hang out together during their daily breaks and so on.

Make clear guidelines on behaving on-site, and give them to all your employees. However, the main focus should be physical distancing. Some companies have a practice of having one team working one week, while the other team is home, and then the other way around. 

If your organization can work in "pods "or divided with glass bulkheads, invest in those small workplace changes to maximize health standards. Also, educate your workers on the usage of video conferencing, ensure shift handling is done online, and close or renovate your lunch area so you could avoid a large number of people hanging together at the same time. This doesn't mean your workers shoudn't have their lunchtime and a place to have that lunch – find a solution where they can safely eat while practicing physical distancing. 


2. Manage risks and make sure the business keeps going

Unfortunately, this global pandemic has drastically increased risks in business. Some of them are struggling with demand and supply, and some of them are struggling with a lack of workers due to quarantine. For sure, these risks affect every business, but how big and serious those effects will depend on the companies leaders and their organizational skills and willingness to adapt.  

One way of managing risks is to make priorities. Also, divide your employees into teams, and each team should have some of those priorities on their "to do "list. This way, important things are equally distributed through teams, so if one team has to go in quarantine, you don't have to put all important tasks on hold. 

Technology allows you to help yourself and improve your organization and planning. You can even use technology to run a few different scenarios of new processes and find the best solution for you before you implement it. Also, teach your workers new skills remotely. This way, you can use some of your existing workers for some new business processes you bring to your company.

It can feel frustrating from time to time, and like you are in front of the wall and don't know how to motivate your employees to keep productive. This is where the honest approach and communication comes in. Don't guess how your workers feel and how they are dealing with a new working environment. Ask them. Solve problems together. 

Maybe the first or even a second solution you came across won't be the best fit for your company. Keep trying until you find the perfect operation model that will work for your company. 

 

3. Manage distance working

Some industries can establish a fully remote working, and eliminate virus spreading among coworkers completely. However, with manufacturing, that is not the case. This doesn't mean that nothing should change. Management, administration, sales, marketing, and similar teams can work from home. For workers who are required to work at the plant, you should ensure they work in teams (and preferably in shifts). This way, if one of your workers get the virus, you won't have a situation where the entire company is in quarantine. 

Many companies have their usual managing practices where management and workers have daily briefings, walks throughout the plant, and most of the communication is done face to face. This new approach with distance managing is, for sure, make things harder. Unfortunately, it is a necessary action. You still have to make sure that productivity doesn't' decrease and the job is done as usual. Think about the ways you can establish communication and daily meeting online. 


Conclusion

Changes are necessary, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. You will invest in modernization and technology now, but you could improve your business, and you will actually see some long term benefits from it. Suppose this modernization, aside from adapting to this ongoing unpleasantness called COVID-19, can also accelerate your business process. In that case, you will save time, which will get you business growth and improvement, for sure.  

Take our example. At Cheetah Hydraulics, we did everything we could to protect our workers and invested in technology that can improve our business and help our customers in configuring their ideal hydraulic cylinder from their home's comfort.

With just a few simple clicks, your cylinder is done, and you can see the 3D preview before you order it—no physical contact between you and our workers. We have eliminated physical contact, and our processes are now a lot faster than they used to be! 

Do you want to see how it works? Click here to play around with our Cylinder Configurator.

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