Mold Builders are Managing Operations and Opportunities as Coronavirus Continues
Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the MMT team has been checking in with mold builders across North America to hear what they are experiencing and how they are managing their operations and new opportunities during these challenging times.
mold builders’ take on covid-19 opportunities and challenges
The crazy headlines, negative stories, gloomy data and sometimes scary predictions surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) don’t always give the full story. So, I set out this week to get a more accurate picture of what was actually happening in MMT’s niche of the manufacturing world: mold shops across North America.
I’m only one person, but I believe I did connect with enough people by phone, email and social media this past week to gather insight that provides a nice little snapshot of the workload status, supply chain disruption, “flattening the curve” efforts, communication changes, information requests and positive impacts of North American mold builders.
Several conversations had very positive tones. One, in particular, shared that not only was the shop busy but they are “amping up” their strategies during this time—including investing in machining equipment, programming software, work holding solutions and in-sourcing to get even faster!
Keep in mind this situation is so fluid that it could change at any minute, but below is a general status right now:
Workload and Supply Chain Status:
- No reported slowdowns at customer facilities; lead times have not been affected at this time; customers deliveries have not been affected yet.
- No direct impact yet other than in the availability of cleaning supplies; no raw material shortages yet; diverse supply chain, so unless there are major cancellations, proceeding as normal.
- Suppliers have been quick to communicate their supply line status; domestic suppliers are in full swing; using local sources as much as possible and aware that their supply chain may be affected.
- Open as usual and have capacity to help; quite busy but do have press time for molding; have molding capacity and can step in at any time; healthy workload at the moment but could take on some added work at this time.
- Managing a very healthy workload booked into Q3/Q4 before the pandemic; projects for diagnostics programs have been moved to the front of the line; developing expedited schedules for customers, and notifying others of impacts to their “less critical” project’s schedules and asking for understanding.
- Several large tooling projects are wrapping up this month resulting in the immediate capacity to accept new tooling, mold repair, CNC machining, etc.
- Wrapping up a big Q1 and actively looking for work.
- Cut hours to normal overtime of 44-48 hours and no Saturday shift for now in the hopes of completing everything in-house and that we continue to see jobs trickle in, so no layoffs are necessary; always open to take on more molding projects—small to large quantities and sampling a mold.
- Commercial importing and exporting has not been affected yet in Canada.
- Canadian government has made $10 billion available for Canadian businesses.
- Shipping internationally is unpredictable right now.
Flattening the Curve Strategies:
- All will remain operational until officially told otherwise by municipal or government authority.
- Increased educational awareness of personal surroundings, shop cleanliness, shared space environment and promoting personal responsibility.
- Known at-risk employees will use vacation and sick time to stay home from work and limit their exposure; thermometers are available for employees to voluntarily test their temperatures.
- Flexible work schedules to limit employee interaction: night shift changes, working weekends and office and engineering personnel working from home; moved some workers from day shift to 2nd shift in an effort to balance things out in the event someone tests positive on one shift or the other.
- Sectioning off areas of the shop (CNC operators, EDM operators, moldmakers, etc.) to limit employee interaction; team members must stay at their machines or workstations; Not allowing staff to eat lunch or take breaks in the lunchroom together in groups.
- Incoming deliveries occur outside the building and all incoming mail, packages and deliveries are being sanitized before entering the facility; outgoing shipments are being sanitized.
- Implementing a temporary hiring freeze.
- Restricted all nonessential travel.
- Restricted customer and vendor visits; face to face meetings are being significantly limited; video conferences for project updates and video demonstrations of any processes.
Increased communication from leadership via daily videos, text messages and cell phone discussion.
- Issued statements to customers and partners on the website and via email, sharing the shop’s best practices for health and safety. Deliver this message with weekly progress reports.
- Local community assistance by providing STEM activities for adults to take part in with their children who are at home without education or activity during this time. These STEM activities will be released each morning as a promise, for as long as students are out of class through social media.
It’s always been about community and connection for me when it comes to MoldMaking Technology, but this has taken on a whole new meaning with the current state of affairs. However, I see opportunity—and a chance for us to provide more value to the industry.
Mold manufacturers who have been critiqued for slow lead times, as compared to the overseas competition, are proving to themselves and customers during COVID-19 that North American mold manufacturers and suppliers can unite and do things at an extraordinary speed.
Mold manufacturers and technology suppliers across North America have day jobs and night jobs when it comes to doing more to help both their customers and local communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Here is one mold component supplier’s story.