COVID-19 has brought many challenges to industries across the globe, and manufacturing has been hit hard in particular. With all the different working parts involved in manufacturing, as well as the often close proximity of factory and warehouse workers, a global pandemic has certainly created problems for fulfilling orders, especially for those companies that are reliant on imports from abroad.
But along with the challenges, the pandemic has also meant that many companies have entirely rethought their processes. Some of these changes could be implemented permanently even as the virus is brought under control. Here’s a look at how manufacturers have been coping with COVID-19, including what European Springs & Pressings has been doing to ensure continued and safe operations throughout.
Visibility is vital when it comes to optimising a supply chain. So when the pandemic hit, and there were disruptions throughout the industry, it was more important than ever that manufacturers could understand the cascading impact these disruptions were having on the rest of the supply chain. Visibility can also help manufacturers prepare for problems in advance, allowing them to prepare alternative supply routes to arrange raw materials for delivery.
When selling goods, manufacturers need to know the schedules of their suppliers, where they are located and when they encounter any disruptions of their own and how it might affect their own business. Manufacturers can do this by using technologies like RFID tags, GPS tracking software and fleet tracking to monitor their entire supply chain. When manufacturers have complete visibility over their operations, they can prepare for upcoming disruptions and implement solutions before they happen.
Following COVID-19, manufacturers are now aware of where the pandemic caused them the biggest headache, and have no doubt already put contingency plans in place, including increased visibility. With this extra knowledge, they should be ready to tackle any future pandemics, hopefully allowing them to continue to operate as usual.
Acceleration of 4.0 Technologies
Digital solutions are already on their way, but COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated this uptake with manufacturers.
As companies restore operations, the benefits of digital solutions can already be seen. Remote collaboration, digital work instructions and augmented reality are all ways that can help businesses succeed in a time when social distancing needs to be adhered to. There’s also the problem of forecasting. Traditional forecasting algorithms are relatively simplistic and rely on variables such as previous sales and future demand. With the shockwaves caused by COVID-19, it’s clear that this traditional forecasting method is no longer sufficient.
Autonomous planning uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that utilise not only internal data but external datasets from suppliers, customers and broader economic indicators. Including these variables helps companies respond to changing dynamics efficiently. With this kind of technology available, manufacturers can better prepare for, and respond to the onset of, say, a new pandemic in the future.
Digital technologies also aid with social distancing by enabling remote work and collaboration. Location-tracking and mobile apps also help factory workers to maintain a safe distance on the factory floor when working from home is not possible.
Delivering finished goods also poses problems during a pandemic, as COVID-19 reduced the availability of transportation methods and introduced issues like the new requirements for safe packaging and contactless delivery. Digital solutions increased not only visibility but also the performance of these tasks. With the likes of fleet management, route optimisation and carrier analytics, transport can be optimised and increase a company’s resilience against a crisis.
Automation can be implemented into the warehouse with the likes of shuttle systems, automated retrieval systems, smart shelves and picking robots. These Industry 4.0 solutions can assist manufacturers in making picking multiple orders much easier and more effective and eliminate social distancing problems caused by the pandemic.
There are so many ways that Industry 4.0 can transform a manufacturer’s operations, and COVID-19 will likely accelerate the uptake of these technologies.
COVID-19 Procedures at European Springs & Pressings
Here at European Springs & Pressings, we have been taking precautions that are in line with government guidelines to ensure that we can continue to operate safely while providing our customers with everything they need. We have put in the following COVID-19 safety measures:
- We have implemented Perspex barriers between desks onsite to help lessen the probability of staff members passing germs to each other.
- Automatic hand sanitisers have been strategically placed around the premises so that employees can regularly sanitise and ensure their hands are clean, helping to prevent germs spreading.
- COVID-19 safe practices have been outlined to all staff, which they adhere to. We are also continually reviewing these guidelines in line with the most recent government updates to ensure everyone is staying safe.
- Employees who are in close contact with one another wear PPE in our factories.
- Employees who can work from home are doing so, such as the majority of our accounts and admin team.
At European Springs & Pressings, the safety and wellbeing of our employees is very important to us, which is why we have brought in these safety measures to ensure everyone feels safe coming into work. We’ve been fortunate in that our operations haven’t been too badly affected by the pandemic, and that’s thanks to our diverse client base from a range of different industries.
If you’d like to learn more about any of our products, contact us today. We are expert spring manufacturers and wire form manufacturers, able to provide you with a bespoke design and manufacture service of custom springs.