Three Considerations With Manufacturing Operations During COVID-19

A recent article from McKinsey titled “Managing a manufacturing plant through the coronavirus crisis” shares some advice on how to proceed in these ever-changing times. Fusion has implemented many of these tips as we adapt as needed in our business.

There are three areas of focus can help plant leaders navigate the transition from initial crisis response to the “next normal”:

1. Protect the workforce through standardizing operating procedures, processes, and tools that help keep staff safe. Build workforce confidence through effective, two-way communication that responds to employees’ concerns through flexible adaptation.

– Use all precautions possible, including safety gear for your staff. Stagger shifts when possible, use social distancing, and disinfect frequently.

– Mental health can be another concern for employees. China is offering counseling to factory staff. Fusion did a recent blog on mental health tips which can be found here:

– Minimizing the potential future impact of infections will require companies to alter team structures and working methods in order to limit contact across the workforce. One way this can be done is by establishing “pods” for all on-site personnel, organized for self-contained teams with clearly defined tasks and workspaces that can be physically and socially separated from each other as much as possible.

– Keep communications with staff frequent and concise. One company asks supervisors to collect queries and concerns from frontline team members every morning and then addresses responses to everyone.

2. Manage risks to ensure business continuity: Anticipate potential changes and model the way the plant should react well ahead of the fluctuations to enable rapid, fact-based actions.

– Companies can revisit the metrics they use to track manufacturing performance. To make up for reduced in-person access to the shop floor, some factory-management teams are already beginning to identify and track leading key performance indicators (KPIs) in addition to the standard first and second level KPIs they usually rely upon.

3. Drive productivity at a distance: Continue to effectively manage performance at the plant while physical distancing and remote working policies remain in place.

– Anybody not absolutely required on-site, including managers and many support functions, can be encouraged to work remotely as much as possible.

– Hold virtual staff meetings instead of in-person. Also use virtual meetings to “meet” with potential customers minimizing yours and their risk.

Following these guidelines will help your company remain productive and confident during this crisis.