How Factories Should Prepare for Normal Operations after the Lockdown

By Edward Ojede

In the early response to Covid-19, a nationwide lockdown was ordered with effect from 20th March and more than 4,200 companies across the country shut down.

With time about 215 factories producing essential commodities resumed operations but following the strict government guidelines that included camping onsite, on top of establishing safety procedures against COVID-19.

Now that the restrictions are slowly being lifted, factories and businesses should reassess their operations because we know that we could roll back one day to another lockdown.

First, we need to safeguard business continuity and economic recovery by ensuring the safety and health measures we have put in place are embedded. ‘Safety and Health First’ approach will ensure employee safety and workplace hygiene as a prime focus.

Manufacturing units need to carry out a complete safety audit of the entire unit before taking up starting activities. They should clean the pipelines, equipment and discharge lines to ensure safety. We need to tighten our workplace safety guidelines; encourage working in shifts, scenario planning, social distancing and adopt healthy work practices.

The impending challenge, post lockdown, is to have fewer people on the factory floor in compliance with the social distancing norms. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, staying at least six feet away from one another reduces the chances of catching COVID-19. This implies factory-floor modifications with lifting and shifting of machinery.

Secondly, it’s important to apply a ‘people first’ approach in the way we deal with suppliers and employees. Adopting this approach will go a long way in helping factories find their balance again.

Manufacturers during this initial recovery need to put in place protective measures to reassure employees coming back to work so that they can feel safe and supported through this time of crisis. ‘People first, economy second’ – this is what I believe in. You can start with 30% capacity, go 40-50% over the next few months as business picks up. A humane approach in tough times can go a long way in securing trust.

Nurture a hype agile task force. Speed is of the essence as factories resume operations. One solution is to empower a hype agile team capable of rapid decision making, responding to unprecedented situations in real-time, and dealing with an ecosystem of clients and suppliers. The recovery task force approach is mandated at the CEO level as business leaders recognize the huge challenge ahead. You will need to create a recovery task force that will be on the watch of any identified cases and ensure everyone is following set out guidelines.

Post Covid-19, we will witness a new normal and change will be inevitable. We must adapt and remember that change is always for the better and can herald tremendous progress.

This pandemic is most probably temporary and many businesses will bounce back when it is brought under control. As the business gets back to usual in due course of time, the production will be enhanced to full capacity. So there is HOPE for all.

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