Effects from Covid-19 have been felt throughout the world, from social to economical aspects. Some people are getting sick, some others are asked to stay home and when it comes to the manufacturing industry, there are a lot of other issues that companies are facing.
This crisis started in China a few months ago. Thousands of people got sick, cities were in full lockdown and the economy has slowed down for a while. Since China plays a big role in a lot of supply chains around the world, Covid-19 began interfering with businesses even before it made Europe and America grind to a halt. The shortage of raw materials and decreases in demand were felt even before the effects on public health.
In an attempt to restrain the spread of the virus, the World Health Organization has been recommending full or partial lockdowns, quarantine for contaminated employees and social distance for everyone. We have prepared a list of measures and tools that you can take into consideration, either to deal with your employees that are able to work remotely or with the ones that need to stay on the shop floor.
Times are a-changin’: New challenges and needs
A new remote mindset
This can be both the stepping stone to establishing new and successful processes, and also the biggest challenge you will face.
A new and remote mindset needs to be adopted immediately and spread around your team in a top-down approach, thinking and acting differently and leading by example.
Even though this might be a temporary approach to work, consider that creating a remote-first infrastructure might be a life-long lesson, changing your entire structure and organizational culture. Everything might get back to normal, but your team will have learned the flexibility, tools and skills to be productive from other places, if ever needed again. This will shut down geographical barriers for new hires, enlarging your options.
Make an effort to maintain all the cultural and social moments that your team regularly have at the office: Daily stand-ups; weekly team meetings. Reinvent them and make use of all the available technologies to ensure that your culture continues to be reinforced. You can’t replicate a team lunch if everyone is working from their own homes, but you can design a different social experience that allows everyone in the team to meet their social connection needs, despite the distance.
As a leader, consider that you will need to show up frequently, to reinforce your leadership even during this time apart. Make sure that your management team has the necessary tools and processes in place to be able to manage their own remote teams, and try to avoid micromanagement, investing in a trusting, grown-up relationship. Don’t forget to show empathy and check on your team’s mental health. These are challenging times for everyone.
Either between your management team, working remotely, and your shop floor team; or amongst remote workers, you will need to reinforce and redesign your communication processes.
As we have previously suggested, replace all meetings with video calls – video is probably the closest approach to physical gatherings and to help your team maintain a fluid cadence of social connection. It also allows for non-verbal communication to pass through: The tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions. Everything matters to keep the bonding and cohesion between your team.
If you don’t have any weekly all-hands meetings, like a kick-off or a wrap-up, consider implementing it, even if they are a short and informal moment. They are energy boosters and they can serve pretty much every goal, from sharing your goals for the upcoming week, to brag about your accomplishments over the last couple of days, or a mere conversation about side projects and a check-up on the well-being of the team.
At Prodsmart, we have two all-hands moments: A kick-off meeting on Mondays, when everyone shares their priorities for the week; and a wrap-up meeting on Fridays, a moment to share our accomplishments and rate the week from 1 to 5 stars. It’s important to establish a well-defined agenda and set of rules for these meetings.
For manufacturers, having a solution that allows instant communication with the shop floor is priceless. With Prodsmart, not only do you have access to real-time data and information, you can also adjust what your workers see on their tablets while on the shop floor, allowing you to share announcements, your company’s quality policy, as well as other relevant information that needs to be where your employees are!
For more tips and tools to keep remote communication and remote processes going, check out this blog post we have prepared and take a look at our chat and announcement features!
Ensuring Social Distance and Optimization of resources
Besides having all the office teams working remotely, you need to spread the remaining staff as far as possible, making sure that they stay 6 feet away from each other while working – This might require a rearrangement of your shop floor.
Other possibilities are a temperature check before entering the factory or having everyone using masks while in the factory. To prevent contamination on highly touched surfaces, you might decide to eliminate doors or keep them open. If that is not possible, implement a disinfection routine between shifts and acquire hand sanitizer and no-touch disposal equipment that can be used by everyone.
If you can, add one more shift and keep each shift smaller and without rotating people between shifts. Last but not least, you can close specific areas of production which are not necessary and optimize all of your resources, from people to machines.
If you are using a Manufacturing Software to plan and schedule your production, you can easily visualize your production plan and make the necessary adjustments to use all the available resources without compromising production deadlines.
Unknown information about new processes and products
Implementing sudden changes in your production, from a new process to a new product or production flow, will have an impact on all of your metrics and KPIs. In some cases, you will be back to square one, having no or little information about costs or times.
The faster you learn about the changes you have made, the easier it will be to adjust and improve your processes, making them leaner, more effective and productive.
If you are using a Manufacturing Software like Prodsmart, you will be able to start collecting information from the shop floor as you start implementing the changes, and analyzing it in real-time.
Preparing to reopen the factory
Social distancing and all the changes made to prevent Covid-19 from spreading will become “the new normal” from now on, or at least for the next 12-18 months, until there is an appropriate vaccine.
Experts are predicting that if closing your factory was hard, reopening will be even harder! You will need to take extra care with your employees’ health and safety, while adjusting your business to try to survive and surpass this financial crisis.
Will you have a spike in demand of one or more specific products due to the “new way of living”? Will you start producing a different product? Can your facility restructure the flow of people and materials to minimize the interactions of people between small groups and supervisors?
Ask these and other relevant questions while preparing to reopen your factory. If you haven’t shut down operations, this can also be an opportunity to rethink and improve your processes.
How to manage your team and your operations from home?
If there is a time to take advantage of the potential of technology, it is now! If you are using a Manufacturing software like Prodsmart, you are able to send part of your team home, without jeopardizing the tracking and management of your operations.
From Sales Orders, to Scheduling and MRP & Purchasing, Prodsmart has the capabilities to allow your team to work collaboratively from home, in real-time.
Even your management team, by having access to relevant information and production records in real-time, is able to keep tracking and managing their teams and the entire production flow.
Our worker status, production status and scheduling tools are a great example of a visual aid for a quick check up on your processes:
Your team will also be able to work remotely without losing the connection and communication with shop floor workers. We have numerous features embedded in our solution that can help you promote real-time communication, such as an announcement board in real-time and chat.
Announcement feature to improve communication in the shop floor
Implementing a Manufacturing Software exclusively remotely
Yes! It is possible, it only depends on the mindset!
At Prodsmart, our operations have always been 95% remote, from the sales development to the customer relations and support. Our software was built considering the need for remote access to information:
– The owner/CEO can have access to production dashboards and reports in real-time, from anywhere;
– The Production manager can check the status of every operation;
– A Scheduler / Planner can plan the production and reajust the planning, according to the progress of the operations;
– A Quality Manager can verify if health and safety checklists are being filled by workers;
– A Maintenance Director can have information about machines and operations from different factories, while in his office.
Our processes were originally designed to ensure a premium remote customer experience.
If you want to know how a Manufacturing Software can help you to work from home without compromising the management of your business, sign up now and get in touch with our team of experts.