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Manufacturing Community Discussion Board

Purdue MEP has created this forum for manufacturing companies to engage one another on topics pertaining to COVID-19. Specifically, how it's impacting them and the measures being taken to continue operations while ensuring the health and safety of employees. It is our hope this platform is a means for sharing innovative practices and policies. Please note the content of this forum is neither endorsed nor recommended by Purdue MEP.

How are manufacturers operating through COVID-19?

C.D.H. - Anonymous
We have shut down our corporate headquarters and are having everyone there work from home. We have stopped all domestic travel and international travel either by airplane or vehicle. Our Outside Sales rep’s aren’t traveling to see any customers. Our inside sales reps, many are working from home along with our customer support are working from home. Bottom line is anyone who can work from home is doing it. We only have our operations and engineering people within the facilities. All meetings are WebEx with very few attending in person if they are in the building. We are even looking at having our assembly workers on the lift lines start wearing masks and we looking to slow our vehicle assembly lines down by reducing headcount within the stations from 2 people to one person and possible have those people removed from the line go to another shift to continue to build vehicles.

I’m looking to see if we are doing everything we should be doing to keep our employees in a safe manner. We’ve had discussion today about shutting all manufacturing operations down but haven’t gotten to that point yet.

If you have other things you’re doing for your workforce that I didn’t mention please let me know.

RE: How are manufacturers operating through COVID-19?

I. J. - Anonymous
We have taken the following action

1. We have stopped all international travel
2. We have limited all domestic travel to business critical – i.e. supporting a plant that is in need.
3. All corporate people are encouraged to work from home and those in plants with that ability (purchasing etc)
4. No gatherings of more than 20 (being revised)
5. No traveling to customers
6. No access to plants by anyone other than business critical, so some contractors and staff. I am not visiting the factories I run right now.
7. Plants are spreading break rooms out so we can keep 6ft distance during breaks etc.
8. Good hygiene practices

In all plants we have run through shut down scenarios (we have glass furnaces which cannot be shut off without significant risk of damage).

As we speak we have not been impacted at our plants but I think that is a matter of time that we will be impacted by peoples inability to come to work or a area lock down.

RE: How are manufacturers operating through COVID-19?

B. W. - Anonymous
So far, we have implemented similar measures to others:
1. Stopped all Intn’l and Domestic travel unless “mission critical” and requires Exec. Officer Level approval.
2. Restricted visitors other than those working on construction/engineering projects in-process. Exceptions with Exec. Officer Level approval.
3. We have prepared Policy/Guidelines/Infrastructure to support remote-working, but have not implemented.
4. Canceled all large meetings internally and those we sponsored externally. Working to ensure satellite meeting room connectivity/capability for distributed necessary internal meetings.
5. Implemented response protocols for the production lines to deal with Associate Self-Report Illness, External Notification to an Associate of possible exposure, and upon notification from external health care entity confirming any actual diagnosis of Covid-19.
6. Established a call-in Hot Line dedicated to field Coronavirus related questions, conduct or direct Associate for screening, give directions for possible exposure or illness incidents.
7. Increase higher frequency cleaning/disinfecting of common areas across the plant and specific cleaning/disinfecting protocol for any work specific area based on (5) above.
8. Implemented Supply Chain risk mgmt./monitoring based on key factors of interruption (tier parts/matls short, attendance issues, state/local directive to close, etc.). Created visual U.S. and Indiana State (county level) visual maps to track key impacts.
9. Created multiple production interruption/partial production/plant closure scenario studies and contingency planning. Specific identification of key personnel that must still report to work in event of plant shutdown.
10. Confirmed similar plans/policies for any authorized to work on-site Vendors who provide essential services to operations.
11. Practicing “social distancing” when possible. Unofficial no hand-shaking rule. Encouraging smaller/fewer internal meetings.
12. Distributed as many supplies and awareness information posters as possible encouraging good personal hygiene.
13. Increased frequency of internal communication around Company/Mgmt/HR activities to support Associates who may experience some impact due to overall Pandemic caused issues. Temporary HR policies/practical guidelines are being developed on the fly!

Hope this helps anyone with additional activities/thinking around this.

Thanks for starting this sharing.

RE: How are manufacturers operating through COVID-19?

Anonymous - Anonymous
1. Work from home (only about 20% of our population can do this).
2. Using Microsoft Teams (virtual) meetings to replace essential meetings and cancelling all non-essential meetings to eliminate physical presence. Virtual interviews for potential hires.
3. Cancelling all non-essential activities (training, public service, physical recruiting events, physical interviews and plant tours).
4. Allowing people to swap shifts if they can work it out with someone to allow them to take care of children at home.
5. Extensive visitor approval prior to visit including vendor notice for requirements and agreement, company doctor approval, plant manager and VP approval for those coming from outside the local area.
6. Removed as many contractors as possible to reduce physical presence.
7. Staggering start and end of shift to minimize large groups coming and going at the same time (also “stopping to talk”)
8. Placing sanitizer in mass quantities throughout the plant and at turnstiles.
9. Additional janitorial services to sanitize all “touched” surfaces multiple times per day (door knobs, etc.)
10. Preparing lists for “backup” personnel for every critical role in case primary person cannot be here.
11. Meeting every morning at the plant site to cover last 24 hrs. issues and next 24 hrs. concerns as well as any other information to be transferred.
12. Meeting every day for all plants around the world to discuss issues and action items.
13. All travel cancelled unless emergency.

RE: How are manufacturers operating through COVID-19?

J.S. - Anonymous
Some additional ideas we have implemented to cut down on germ spreading:
1. Unplug time clocks and email all times to cut down on standing in lines.
2. Encourage employees to eat lunch alone and avoid close groups during breaks.
3. Anyone that calls in sick cannot return to work until their temperature is taken and they do not have a fever.
4. We have multiple plants. No switching employees from plant to plant and record any movements from moving an employee to a different department.
5. Shut down all conference rooms and break rooms. Meetings are held in large open rooms where everyone stands at least six feet apart.
6. Moved employee desks to rooms no longer being used (Conference rooms/break rooms) to keep employees that cannot work remotely spread out.

Hope this helps!

Additional things to do

Opened up our air handling system to allow more fresh air into the building.

Suggestion to deal with Corona virus

Nikhil C - Xpanxion
Whole world is fighting against corona virus & we all know that it will take ample amount of time to create vaccine for covid-19 and spread it across world. Rather than manufacturing and distributing these antidodes, i think the best way to deal with this pandemic quickly is someone should create an antivirus which will spread the same way as corona (person-to-person) and kill covid-19 virus. Till then Stay Home Stay Safe.

Help Make products during COID-19 Crisis

GEORGE AARON - Mahogany Company
My Company is a large manufacturing facility were our workers are continuing to work because we are a essential because. We do work with the militarily and much more.
What my company does is we cut any type of fabrics. We have many CNC Fabric cutting machines and also large core cutting machinery. We have the capabilities to cut anything. We could cut surgical masks, shields and much more. We are mainly in the marine industry cutting and making things for all boat builders. we also have abilities to make and press our own panels and cut them. if there is something we can do, we would love to have the extra work, thanks.
We are a family business that has been owned and operated for over 75 years. Please let us know if there is any work for us to do.

RE: How are manufacturers operating through COVID-19

Most of my family works in different sectors of manufacturing. The response has been different from each. My daughter works for one of the largest 3D additive manufacturers in the USA; they have ramped up production and are actually looking for more qualified workers now as they begin to produce parts for ventilators and other necessary equipment. My husband works for a company that produces parts for high-end home construction; half of their workforce has taken voluntary furlough--unpaid or borrowing time from their PTO--while the rest of the workers practice social distancing and up their cleaning routines. My company has allowed office staff the opportunity to work from home (where I am now.) The rest of our staff is practicing social distancing and upping cleaning protocols. I talk about some of the steps we’ve followed here:

Does a plant need to shut down if employee contracts Covid-19

Shawn - Anonymous
Each state is developing there own protocol, this website allows you to search and find what you need to know. You can find the protocol for Indiana here:

COVID-19 Safety Practices

Joe McMurry - Purdue MEP
While conducting a Peer Group Session with manufacturing leaders, some safety practices related to COVID-19 were discussed which I thought were worth posting in this forum.

Beyond following the CDC guidelines; such as social distancing and enhanced cleaning operations, companies were doing the following:

Talking to employees more regularly to assure reduced anxiety and stress.

Limiting the number of employees in the break room(s). Including removing tables and chairs to limit the number of places to sit.

Encouraging employees to take breaks/lunch in their vehicles [alone].

Relaxing attendance policies.

Reducing access to supply vending machines to a couple of supervisors, as well as wiping them down after each use.

Reducing access to food vending machines, as well as wiping them down after each use.

If sent home for illness or out of precaution, employees are getting paid.

Decreasing access to buildings based on essential workers only. (i.e. Once an employee is told to work from home, they are not allowed to come into the office.) This policy resulted from a situation where an employee, working from home, came into the office to get some things from their work area and was diagnosed with COVID-19 a couple of days later. They had some limited interactions with other employees while in the office thus raising concerns for those with whom they interacted.

Requiring all employees who are still working to wear PPE, including masks and gloves.

Taking temperature of each employee before allowing them to enter the building.

Leaving interior doors open and lights on all the time, thus reducing touch points.

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