Manufacturing practices in the new norm


The new “normal” is something we all are getting used to – but what happens when curfew is lifted and we are back at work?

I believe to be responsible corporates, we need to look at establishing a new culture that supports the new normal.

Social distancing, wearing a mask, self-isolation, washing hands multiple times will need to be behaviours we continue to drive across all our teams.

For manufacturing and service oriented organizations, it will be extremely important to establish new behaviours that support “new ways of working” to ensure all our teams, products and work places are safe. 

Over the last couple of weeks, at Fonterra we have been implementing and experimenting new practices which would enable us to face these new challenges.

As everyone gets ready to return to work I would like to share some of these practices in the hope that it would help you in tackling this new norm.

  1. It's OK to over-communicate-  multiple communications of new behaviours  and best practices will be necessary to build a new working culture.
  2. Everything starts at home.  The family is the primary learning and social space. You may take all controls at the work place, however if employees and their families behave unsafe outside the working environment, you will still be at risk. Provide guidelines to be practiced when they are out of work.
  3. No compromise on entry/ exit controls– Everyone entering your premises should follow strict guidelines.  Washing hands properly & wiping them, sanitizing with alcohol, sanitization of shoes before entering critical areas, wearing masks and temperature monitoring are controls you could consider to be implemented.
  4. Clearly demarcated zones -  If possible create zones where people cannot move between zones.  This would help you isolate a zone in case a covid-19 positive case is found and continue other operational activities.
  5. Create additional facilities to maintain social distancing.  Current facilities like meal rooms, locker rooms are not designed to maintain 1M distance; therefore you would need to redesign those facilities  & strict implantation may need to be put in place. You may need to utilize available training rooms or meeting rooms for this purpose.
  6. Optimize your plan considering the new norms. Alternate your schedules to ensure minimum people at site. Take turns between production and delivery where possible. Staggered tea and lunch breaks, using a PA system to communicate and remind sanitization practices will help you manage these new controls in place.
  7. Cleaning with meaning. While you increase your cleaning intervals, teams also need to be educated how and what to clean.  For example; placing hand sanitizers in vulnerable places will force people to clean their hands,  controlled stops of all operations in regular intervals for cleaning will also support building these new behaviours.

To create “new ways of working”, we need to change not only the facilities but more importantly the behaviours.

We may not achieve everything at once and these measures may lead to loss of some productivity at the start. But continuous focus, communication, a check and adjust mindset will boost your team’s confidence helping us reach our desired levels in both safety & productivity.