With the covid-19 pandemic, manufacturing enterprises have become acutely aware of the need for resilience, i.e. the ability to adapt successfully to external and internal jolts, challenges and changes.
Many manufacturing enterprises point to their already well-established readiness to embrace digital transition as the key factor for getting safely through the pandemic. However, the challenges brought about by the new reality were staggering for manufacturing enterprises not already familiar with the concept of digital transition. Production routines based on printed worksheets, hard copy production plans, post-its and Excel spreadsheets distributed manually to operators as part of the daily rounds in production were suddenly rendered obsolete and inadequate, as all employees able to work from home were generally ordered to do so. What can manufacturing enterprises do, when society is locked down, and key people in the organisation are told to work from home? How is it even imaginable that production planners can carry out their scheduling just as efficiently from home? How can the company ensure that delivery times remain reliable, that order scheduling is optimised without negative consequences, that resource workload estimates are accurate, when the planner works from a remote location?
With ROB-EX, you can schedule anything from anywhere
Cimbria Manufacturing A/S in Thisted (Denmark) responded to the call for the establishment of remote work locations during the lock-down in the spring of 2020. All those able to carry out their functions remotely were ordered to work from home – this included production planner Birthe Buus and all of her colleagues in the planning department.
”I actually feel that the transition that we went through was really quite successful, and the practicalities were dealt with pretty quickly. We weren’t able to meet physically at our morning meetings, as we used to – but we were able to meet via Skype instead. It actually turned out to match our needs very well, and it has even resulted in lasting benefits. Today, we each bring our computer to the meetings and everything is handled in one go. It is much faster and simpler now that we are able to look things up in ROB-EX during the meetings, whenever something needs to be clarified. I believe that online meetings are here to stay,” says Birthe Buus on the transition from being physically present onsite, to suddenly having to carry out production planning for all of Cimbria’s 4 locations remotely.
When it became possible to return to onsite work again, employees could alternate between working onsite and working from home, as they saw fit. Schedules were set up to avoid everyone turning up on the same days. At Cimber Manufacturing A/S, it remains optional whether employees choose to work from home or at the office. For Birthe Buus, this means that she has only worked onsite for what amounts to about a month in total, since the spring of 2020.
”Naturally, we have missed having the possibility of going down to production to see how everything is going. But we are actually able to see the exact same things in ROB-EX. Working from home hasn’t led to any problems in our production scheduling. My scheduling function has simply been relocated to my home, and it really isn’t important where you are located when you work with ROB-EX,” Birthe explains, and continues: ”We have really benefitted from using the Dashboard, and everyone uses it to keep updated on workloads, and this is also where we have a full overview of all of our locations. Even our top-management uses it. We couldn’t work this way without ROB-EX Dashboard, and we include it in a weekly online morning meeting, where we go through it with our foremen.”
Crises are inevitable – the key is all about your preparedness in getting through them
The covid-19 pandemic has – without a doubt – contributed to the acceleration of the implementation of digital solutions in many companies across all industries. Digital transformation has gained momentum over the last several years, and today it is a proven fact that digitalisation is here to stay. Digitalisation provides an infinite number of new possibilities, and the limitations relating to applicability have been pushed far beyond the horizon.
It is a fact – and one that has only been made more evident over the last year – that digitalisation improves your company’s competitiveness and resilience. In spite of the fact that we still experience a lot of uncertainty caused by the lingering covid-19 pandemic, and even though many companies are now concerned about how they will be able to withstand a second pandemic or another major crisis, the message remains clear: digital transition is key to ensuring a strong, competitive, resilient and future-proof manufacturing sector.