Guest Editorial
Sticking to a plan that works is not as hard as you think

ack in March, companies scrambled to comply with ever-changing safety guidelines to remain operational. As time has passed, social distancing efforts, sanitation upgrades and remote work access have become part of day-to-day business. The production line must remain on site in order to fulfill orders but staggered schedules or crew number limitations are not sustainable without a long-term plan.

In addition to distancing work stations, adjusting schedules and providing workers with work station shields and proper air filtration, it is imperative for everyone inside the facility to wear masks, carry out symptom checks and institute a no-questions-asked paid sick day policy.

People are struggling to make ends meet. Throughout the U.S., a lot of people already have lost their jobs. If you are forced to choose between going to work or risk being fired because you’re asking for sick time, that is not an effective way to keep the virus from spreading or to remain a productive business.

Over time, it can be easy to become lax if everyone stays healthy. To ensure employees continue to follow safety precautions, a lot rests on the shoulders of each individual. Everyone knows that we will be forced to shut down our facility if there is an outbreak while the virus is contained and the facility is sanitized. Nobody wants to be the person that causes that to happen, so everyone here has remained diligent in their efforts to follow the protocols.

cut-out style graphic of people wearing masks
Complicated communication

It has become very difficult for us as an international company to communicate and maneuver around restrictions when working with international customers. Many places have 14-day quarantines in place both in and out of the country or state. This has made live demonstrations impossible. We have moved to sending video product demonstrations and PowerPoint presentations, along with video conferencing and phone calls, to stay in touch and continue to service our customers.

Lodging expenses have made doing business during the pandemic unprofitable. In some instances, we’ve been able to stay with family depending on the location but that has been out of sheer luck more than planning. If the manufacturing and equipment sales industries are going to survive in a world with long-term COVID-19 effects, the quarantines will have to be dropped and instead enforce stricter safety policies. That will allow business to continue without the risk of eating up any profit in hotel bills.

The pandemic has presented multiple challenges but there are some long-term takeaways that will prove useful even beyond the flush of COVID-19. Some helpful upgrades that have helped us during this difficult time will continue to provide value well beyond.

Many of our systems have been upgraded prior to COVID-19, which helped us transition to a work-from-home policy much easier than some other businesses that did not have remote access readily in place. We have a full enterprise software system that allows us to take processes from quoting all the way to invoicing all while our employees work remotely.

Interactions that may have happened in person now happen through our software programs and analytics dashboards. Business data reports have been streamlined and automated to cut down on meetings.

Automation is increasingly popular, even more so than before now that in-plant workers can be scarce. One of the great benefits of automated welding is that it takes fewer welders to complete the job when you improve upon the productivity of one operation. We have seen many companies move to automation for this reason as it helps keep people spread apart.

What may seem surprising is that if such efforts are made to cut back on risk, people don’t get sick. As long as you are keeping a safe work site and maintain a sanitary environment, it has become fairly clear that this is an effective way to stop the disease from spreading in the workplace. Now might not be the time to get “creative.” Following the guidelines has allowed us to operate for months without issue.

Gullco International,
Cleveland, Ohio, 440/439-8333,