The covid19 epidemic is surely an unprecedented thing. The situation is still dynamic, but even the first lockdown made companies aware that they have to learn to operate in the new reality. What does it mean in daily practice? Many things have changed: the way we work, relax, buy products or use services. Our professional lives moved online, and it is not impossible that even when the pandemic ends, it will stay that way. Hence the need to adjust to this pandemic reality proves to be challenging for many small manufacturing companies. They are looking for savings to survive and wish to optimize operations and some production process elements.
The long-lasting epidemic motivates the introduction of new technologies and the computerization of production. If no-one is able to answer the question: “How much longer?” it seems to be a good solution to rephrase it to: “How differently can we…? Majority of small businesses aren’t able to afford many months of “production vacations, that’s why they are looking for simple and inexpensive solutions.
Practical usage of production scheduling software which will help to limit the spread of the virus and ensure your workers continue to work in a safer and more comfortable environment:
1.Reduce the number of people present at the production hall.
Regardless of the location of your company and constantly changing regulations it is clear that the fewer people are on the premises the better it is. When using production scheduling software such as Prodio it is possible to achieve this in the following ways:
a) The owner or manager doesn’t have to be present at the company. It is easy enough to delegate most of the tasks online. From the safety of your home you can see what is happening at the production hall – just log into the manager’s account and make necessary real-time changes. Your employees will see them straight away on the production plan displayed at the production hall. It is also possible to say who is at work, which products are made and check the overall progress.
b) Introduce the “hybrid” model of work: let some of your staff work online. The constructor or a technologist can easily work from home, only the absolutely necessary production team can stay in the shop. All comments are visible on the online production plan, which ensures smooth communication in accordance with social distancing rules. On the other hand, you avoid bottlenecks and hold-ups as production continues.
c) The manager or office staff don’t have to enter the shop floor to get the necessary information. The same goes for the sales team. They can all stay in their rooms without the need to move around the company. All orders are in the system, so they can be viewed with one click of the mouse and their status checked to give a precise answer when the client calls. There is also no need to pass on any papers – every detail is in the system and various compilations can be downloaded and saved in .xlxs form, so people can work on their office PCs or again benefit from the home office. Thanks to that the staff in the office and the sales team can both be included in the “hybrid” system.
d) The workers from different shifts don’t have to meet face to face to pass on important information. Everything is already in the software, so the following shift can check the progress. Possible problems or malfunctions are mentioned in the comments attached to orders, without the need of physical contact between the team members. Because of that there is sufficient time to air the shop, sanitise machines and avoid crowd in the changing rooms. It will offer workers more comfort when they know that the sanitary regime is respected.
e) It is not necessary to hire an additional person to enter paper orders into the system, because the moment you get an order it is straight away in the system.
2. Reduce the risk of infection caused by touching common spaces and using the same equipment.
It goes without saying that we cannot avoid using the same machines or equipment by different people on the shop floor, but at least we can reduce the risk of infection by regular disinfection and taking serious security measures. Production management software can offer support:
a) Eliminate paper orders. When all information is in the system there is no need to make paper notes and pass them to other workers. It is almost impossible to keep paper sterile or disinfect it regularly. In Prodio software, you can add comments, make real-time changes, drag and drop orders to prioritize the urgent ones, all in a paperless environment.
b) The documents don’t “travel” between the office and the shop floor and there is no need to collect thousands of paper cards because everything is accessible online after logging into the software. This limits the potential risk of infection.
c) Employees use personal RFID key-fobs to check in/check out at work, which makes keeping the paper attendance list unnecessary (no need to touch the same notebook nor pen by many people).
d) A tablet, a card, a button or a key-fob are much easier to disinfect than a piece of paper. It will help you to create a safer and cleaner environment in common space.
3. Plan and monitor.
Thanks to good planning you will be able to tell precisely what is happening at the production hall, which in turn will help you to ensure the safety of your staff.
a) The production schedule will show all operations and orders which are due, so it will be easy to plan the number of workers per shift needed each day at the production hall. This is important knowledge, especially if you decide to implement the “hybrid” system when some of your staff works from a home office or there is no need for them to present at the company every day. It is also vital information for those working on the shop floor because it allows time for disinfection between the shifts, as well as guarantees that people from other shifts don’t meet.
b) Add machines maintenance procedures and service as operations, so it is clear when someone from the outside comes to your production hall. It will allow you to prepare for such a visit ex. you can limit the number of people present at work or assign a different shift for those who are particularly vulnerable (the group of high risk).
c) Production scheduling software shows who was working at the given machine or was responsible for the operation, so in case of covid19 infection, it is possible to notify the group of workers who had contact with a sick person and should be quarantined. Thanks to that solution your production won’t come to a full stop and it will be possible to ensure the safety of the remaining crew.
d) Add a new operation – cleaning service – in the system. Time spared for cleaning is longer due to safety restrictions. When a cleaning operation is registered in the system you are sure that the production hall and machines were disinfected. There is also information about who carried out the operation and how long it took.
e) Many services have moved online. Production planning software means modernization for the company. There is a chance to take advantage of the pandemic and use it in a positive way as a motivator for change. You send a message that your company grows and is flexible and adaptable (maybe you’d wanted to introduce some changes earlier but procrastinated due to lack of time?). The epidemic is closely connected with a more conservative approach to spending. It is a good time to increase effectiveness and productivity. What’s more, many customers prefer online services because of safety, so online manufacturing software will give you an upper hand.
f) Manufacturing scheduling software is a guarantee that everything stays organized. In those difficult and uncertain times, your customers and subcontractors surely will appreciate the transparency and order. It is convenient to receive a precise answer about the pricing and delivery time, etc. to make further plans.
These are just some of the ideas of how manufacturing software helps to fight covid19. Which solutions have you implemented in your business?