EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.
This week we examine the past, present and future impact of COVID-19 on British manufacturers.
Question one: what can manufacturers do to minimise the impact of a second wave of COVID-19 on their businesses and their customers?
Response: Plan ahead as much as possible, order in materials, speak to your customers. Review where COVID-19 has brought you to and make planning decisions based on that scenario.
Response: If you know the demand will be there, order in extra materials now. A local lockdown could result in longer lead times from affected manufacturers/suppliers. You could also make enquiries for a second source.
Response: This is so important. It's vital to identify all of your constrained resources - which is now about more than cash - and use them wisely/address any challenges.
Response: Unfortunately it is only now that people are realising that price is not always the top priority.
Response: Hard to predict but it's just making sure you are on top of capacity planning and top customer communication.
Response: I agree completely. It's about preparation rather than prediction, to be able to cope with the worst and hope for the best.
Response: Agree communication with customers is so important.
Response: Keep a lot of the learnings from the first wave in place to not have to start from scratch, and plan a few scenarios to be able to react quickly to the circumstances.
Response: Planning ahead both in terms of staffing and order books in case the supply chain is interrupted.
Made in Britain: How far ahead should businesses be planning?
Response: We have an order book that is several months ahead but things are being analysed on a weekly basis to try and stay ahead of any shocks.
Response: Definitely plan ahead and revise the strategy to make sure you are able to maximise any opportunities. If you have already pivoted the business, is it sustainable?
Question two: What have manufacturers learned from COVID-19 and the national lockdown?
Response: The importance of hygiene in product development - customers are looking for hygienic products, and are far more aware how easy infections and viruses can be spread.
Response: Reminded of the value of clear communication and managing expectations. Our customers have been incredibly supportive, especially where we have had to move delivery dates to support customers that are working on COVID projects.
Response: Yes we have had the same, especially where our client projects have involved offshore #manufacturing. Keeping up communication and an "open for business" message has been crucial for us. Business #marketing is more important than ever.
Response: It's important not to underestimate the value of the "basic" learnings - making the workplace safe, managing increased/sudden absence, communicating. These will mean being better prepared in future.
Response: In-house production, where possible, is vital in allowing you to adapt in challenging times, especially where a lockdown is concerned with materials stocked ready to be utilized!
Response: Not to take things for granted! We had a ramp-up in work due to the ventilator issue, but now it's dropped back. Our entire SHE viewpoint had a revamp across all the businesses and we're more than confident that, as long as our sites can stay open, we'll be able to operate.
Response: Price is always a priority for us, but right now many customers need to ensure continuity of supply. If that means extra shifts, expediting material delivery, or finding alternatives, then that's what we will do.
Response: The British are great at resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. We have shown that with COVID.
Question three: Have you made any permanent changes to your business as a result of COVID-19?
Response: We have always had a strong focus on sharing knowledge within the company. This is even more important now if staff cannot come to work for whatever reason.
Response: Staff are now better equipped for home working as a result of the pandemic. We've invested in some additional IT to ensure that home working is possible whenever this is required.
Response: Policies on hygiene - health and safety for staff and visitors.
Response: Physical changes have been less than the permanent changes we have made to internal communications. Never has it been more important to talk to each other, to encourage and support.
Response: Engagement, internally, with stakeholders, customers, suppliers, is the only way to keep your finger on the pulse. Industries should also make sure that their voices and concerns are being heard and represented at the highest levels, especially with those taking decisions.
Response: Tighter SHE policies with regards to hygiene and space that I don't think will ever go back to where they were.
Question four: Have sales teams become more efficient or changed as a result of COVID-19?
Response: The past six months have shown me some of the things we do for little return, and some of the things we do for a great return. We'll always need a balance but it's helped put this into perspective.
Response: We don't have a sales team but some of our clients have introduced incentives including buy-back schemes on products which have given the sales team some assistance. Difficult without the ability to network face to face. Online is more crucial than ever.
Response: We've taken on new commercial staff and they're supporting our operation. We've installed a new CRM and MRP system. We plan to grow our way out, it's a bold strategy perhaps but sitting back and waiting is patently not going to work. The strongest will survive.
Response: A "bold strategy" is what is needed in these times so good on you!
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