Craig Guttmann,

President, Algood Caster Innovations

A New Normal

Here in Canada, vaccination rates are soaring while Covid case rates continue to fall. While our reopening may be lagging behind what’s happening in many parts of the U.S., businesses and manufacturers across the continent are talking about returning to normal. But maybe returning to normal isn’t possible or maybe there’s a better idea. At Algood, there are many ways that we are using what we learned in the past 16 months to create a new and much better normal. Here are just some of them.

Employee Health, Safety & Scheduling
Gone are the days when no one cared about employees who come to work with the sniffles or when anyone can enter the plant. We’ll be protecting our surroundings by doing a lot more health education and restricting access to outsiders.

The last 15 months have proven that people can be productive working from home. Even before Covid, we had begun discussing the possibility of having our customer service reps and other office staff work remotely. We knew that it would save them the stress of traveling to and from the office while providing more time to meet the needs of their families. We’re committed to making it an option for those staff members who aren’t totally Zoomed-out.

Travel and Customer Meetings
Covid has proved that you can achieve outstanding customer service online. It has also has exposed the many costs of travel. We’re always looking for the best way to meet our customers’ needs and now we know that a Zoom call might be the best solution. However, a lesson we learned from Covid is that personal interaction is irreplaceable. Rest assured that I’ll still be booking many flights to see our customers.

Disaster and Recovery Planning
In our very early discussions about Covid, I urged our employees to think about it like a fire – that spreads quickly and does increasingly greater damage. Now, we understand that we really have to be prepared for any disaster and have recovery plans in place. What happens if a tornado rips through our plant or if we are the victims of a ransom ware attack? We have put a disaster and recovery plan in place and are meeting every six months to review and refine it.

Supply Chain Management
The popular thinking on this is that businesses now have to avoid putting all their supply chain eggs in one basket because Covid has revealed just how vulnerable companies are to their suppliers. The other side of the coin is that sourcing supplies from multiple vendors affects prices. Making a company a sole source vendor may reduce the costs and allow manufactured goods to be priced more competitively. We’ll be looking at both sides of the coin to ensure that our customers get the best service and the best possible pricing.

Pre-Covid and during the Trump administration the idea of producers pivoting to North American manufacturing was gaining traction. Now we are seeing that the real price of over-dependence on Asian markets is unsustainable lead times and undependable quality. Not only are more businesses repatriating their manufacturing plants, but we have more customers insisting on goods that are 100% North American made – and we expect both of those dynamics to continue.

Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing
Lean or JIT manufacturing was a widely accepted practice pre-Covid. The idea was that by receiving goods only as they are needed for production, inventory costs and wastage could be reduced. The obvious downside is that all those benefits can be nullified by delays in the supply chain. The predicament is that post-Covid, you can’t count always on a producer’s ability to provide supplied goods exactly when they are needed. No matter how JIT fits into the future of the manufacturing sector we’ll be ready to meet the needs of our customers.

In many ways, we will be a better supplier and a better manufacturer because of the lessons learned from Covid. A new normal will be a very good thing.

Wishing our distributor partners, customers, colleagues and suppliers a safe and relaxing summer – and much success in the balance of 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *