How do you keep a factory running during the Covid-19 crisis? The main problem isn’t social distancing necessarily, but keeping workers motivated during the slowdown according to research carried out by www.money.co.uk
, which spoke to 25 business leaders from the manufacturing industry to gain an insight into how coronavirus has affected them.
91% of those interviewed experienced a dip in output and 66% have witnessed a slump in productivity, but despite the fact that 75% of those manufacturers have furloughed staff, many have found new ways to keep production going.
At one end of the spectrum, a food manufacturing plant boss said his company had no choice but to “close all operations”. However, for one valve manufacturer, a can-do attitude of “masks and smiles” was proving enough to keep the wheels of industry rolling. For the vast majority of manufacturers though, working from home and rotational shift patterns for shopfloor workers have proven the most effective measures.
“Those that have the possibility to work from home do so”, said one steam equipment manufacturer, “and those working from the manufacturing facility underago a quick health screening prior to entering the building”.
Elsewhere, other effective strategies included shielding over-60s, reduced staffing levels, split shifts, consolidated shipments and furloughing half the workforce at any one time.
For a specialist sensor manufacturer at least, the crisis has presented an unexpected opportunity. “We are soon to implement an on-line webinar and training platform for our customers in reaction to Covid-19. This may actually prove to be a long-term service for customers if it is successful. We would not have done this had COVID-19 not forced us to respond to the ban on face-to-face customer meetings”.
Unsurprisingly, “cash flow” and a “drop in sales” were among the chief concerns of manufacturing businesses, with one valve and instrumentation supplier even revealing that customers were actively withholding payment on pre-crisis invoices, until normal business resumes.
For others, worries extended beyond the stress of money woes into more practical areas. These concerns ranged from “international shipment delays and costs” to “reduced air travel impacting cargo space availability”, as well as key contacts being unavailable through furlough and the constant pressure of trying to “do the right thing”. Navigating the Covid-19 crisis
Based on its research, www.money.co.uk
has summarised the top five activities that it says manufacturing business leaders will be adopting, to ensure their operations can continue throughout the crisis and beyond.
1. Using this time to engage with customers to understand what their future pain points are likely to be - develop product and service offerings that specifically address those needs.
2. With exhibitions and face-to-face demonstrations off the agenda, they are turning to digital and print media to showcase products and capabilities.
3. Looking at how technology can be leveraged to provide a virtual presence in tehir customers' plants and facilities.
4. Segmenting their customer base and understanding which customers have vital operations that they need assistance with.
5. Looking at what help is available to from the Government to help firms navigate their way through the crisis.
Any businesses that are worried about their financial position and cashflow, can access www.money.co.uk’s
business interruption loan guide which offers help and advice on Government schemes available.
The experts at www.money.co.uk
have also created a coronavirus hub with up-to-date information on a variety of personal and business finance guides.