Manufacturing during the pandemic: What is working for you now?

July 21, 2020
Reader responses to COVID-19 survey reveal high industry resilience, says Thomas Wilk.

When Plant Services and Fluke partnered for this month’s survey on how our industry is navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, we figured that you would have thoughts to share and some difficult tales to tell. The good news is that the over-riding sentiment uncovered by the survey is our industry’s collective fortitude to get through the worst of this situation and emerge stronger.

From the Editor

This article is part of our monthly From the Editor column. Read more from Thomas Wilk.

The idea for the survey emerged during a conversation between Plant Services editors and several subject matter experts at Fluke, where we wondered if life and work under threat of the coronavirus was bringing any pressing plant needs into sharper focus.

You can read the full story on the survey results starting on p.26, which leads with the finding that half of the 232 respondents (all kept anonymous) are running at reduced capacity, and that a quarter said their plant was completing the same level of maintenance with reduced personnel. These data provide important context to a different question in the survey, where respondents told us that the top two current needs in the area of asset management are a “stronger health & safety program” and a “stronger planning and scheduling program.” (If you’re in the latter group, please see Doc Palmer’s column archive.)

In the area of human resources, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they needed “better coordination between internal teams on maintenance best practices,” followed by 24 percent who said they were looking for “more effective use of existing digital asset maintenance platforms (i.e., CMMS).”

Finally, we asked the question, “What is working for you now?” The rest of this column collects some of your responses:

  • “For now, we are fine. We have instigated Business Continuity Plan. This to prevent any breakthrough of COVID.”
  • “Learned to work effectively remotely.”
  • “Gave attendance tokens of 50 dollars per day to essential workers at site.”
  • “Had built up inventories of needed materials to reduce supply-chain issues.”
  • “Almost everything is shut down and we are trying to do social distancing in a close quarters production plant.”
  • “Remote working. Daily temp check. Social distancing.”
  • “More time for inspections; less risks / max capacity operations.”
  • “Our management response has been reactive at best and woefully inadequate for what is considered an essential business.”
  • “Other than some enhanced cleaning procedures we are keeping it same as usual. Giving in to this hysteria is pointless and counterproductive.”
  • “So far, we thankfully have not had an employee come down with the virus.”
  • “Better communication with all employees, staying abreast of federal and state health updates and directives.”
  • “Good crew. Everyone is following our COVID-19 rules.”
About the Author

Thomas Wilk | editor in chief

Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University

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