As COVID-19 cases begin to tail off and many countries introduce a gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions adopted to fight the pandemic, companies wonder how to restart operations after this forced and painful shutdown.
Juergen Sandau, Partner at Deloitte, Anes Hodzic, VP of Digital Transformation and Head of Internet of Things at Airbus, and Kaipeng Zhang, Global Supply Chain China Senior Vice President at Schneider Electric agreed that this crisis is “a big momentum for all digital initiatives” and gave some tips on how to Restart Operations After the Shutdown in a new webinar jointly organized by the Industrial Internet Consortium and the IOT Solutions World Congress.
Conducted by Helena Lisachuk, IOT Global Leader at Deloitte, the conversation revolved around the challenges to be overcome both by local and global players, who currently wonder how to plan within the supply chain knowing that material transport is impeded due to border controls or closures, how to monitor the health of employees while having accurate workforce numbers, or how to adjust production processes.
In this regard, Juergen Sandau emphasized that a few key levers need to be addressed for the restart of operations and their subsequent ramp-up. He made it clear that every company should first do a “restart diagnosis to identify status and risks”, then prepare the workplace to “establish employee health monitoring”, create a restart simulation using a supply chain simulation dashboard for instance, and then restart the task force by supporting the production areas and processes, along with assessing the status and risks of priority suppliers.
From a more practical point of view, Kaipeng Zhang acknowledged Schneider Electric was able to reopen and the end of March in China because it closely followed the social distancing and safety 101 for COVID-19. This means that all workers wore a mask, their temperature was checked four times a day, they had to wash hands before touching their face and, of course, keep social distancing. In this light, he pointed at the use of wearables to avoid gatherings, both at the factory and at the office. None of the 15,000 employees was sick.
Anes Hodzic said that Airbus followed the same safety rules so that the company ensured workers could leave their home and be safe at work. It was also important to guarantee that the supply chain was properly running and to define the measures to be taken with the suppliers.
In the end, all the speakers agreed that the necessary checklist to restart operations is first of all to ensure safety at work in order to reinforce trust and the responsibility of all the stakeholders and then to adjust to new regulations. In this sense, governments have a key role to play, he sentenced.
The VP of Digital Transformation and Head of Internet of Things at Airbus also stressed the need to make this momentum and mindset “sustainable” as “many solutions are here to stay”. Yet the KPIs will probably not be the same in a few months. He finally underlined that what is really important in the current situation is leadership. “We have to empower people to make decisions faster”, he stated.
Eventually, Juerguen Sandau, from Deloitte, insisted that “collaboration is really key” to transition to the new normal. “It’s time to stay globally together. If we manage to exchange our ideas, we might be able to get through this crisis”, he concluded. Zhang echoed this sentiment by stating that although saying this has become a cliché, this time it happens to be true: “this crisis is an opportunity”.