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At the heart of every manufacturing company is its production team and while many colleagues are now home working, Webtec’s production facility has undertaken some changes and challenges too. The company has quickly adapted its manufacturing to practice social distancing, now uses virtual meetings and an increased cleaning schedule to keep staff safe while continuing to meet the demand for customer products and service.
Webtec has staggered the start and finish time of the production staff and breaks have been staggered to reduce crowding in break rooms. The manufacturing facilities were already designed with space between the staff. On the actual machining side there is a dozen machining centers, of which quite often one person would operate two or three machining centers simultaneously. So, while one is running, one would be setting up and one would just need keeping an eye on, for example. There is quite a lot of space around them.
But what is it like to be on the front line of manufacturing at Webtec during COVID-19. Tim Christopher joined the company as Production Control Manager five months ago. He manages the production control team to ensure the smooth and timely flow of product through the manufacturing processes to the customers.
Having learned about the company’s processes and procedures over the past few months, Tim now had to focus on making sure that staff and visitors are safe during the new working during COVID-19. “Initially we had a lot of additional work to ensure that everybody is safe at work. There were of course a number of issues, but the teams worked together at all levels to minimise any impact on our customers or colleagues” he said. “There have been a lot of 5S activities to see how we can work around improving the assembly of products and we will continue to do this in the future. We have seen a lot of cross functional working between areas, with opportunities for sharing of knowledge and skills, which is great for the business going forward and we can use this time to improve our internal processes to make us stronger, leaner and more agile for the future” he added.
Although the roads have been quieter for travelling in to work, the downside for Tim is missing family and friends and his Saturday afternoons volunteering at Cambridge Utd, selling programmes to home and away fans.
Graeme Johnson is Webtec’s Machine Shop Manager, where he is responsible for the team and equipment and is often ‘hands on’ when needed. He is concerned that colleagues might not be taking the current threat serious enough and so is strict in making sure that health and safety measures are followed for everybody’s wellbeing. Like most people Graeme is looking forward to the lifting of some of the restrictions so that he can continue to enjoy the local community activities that are now on hold.
David Gibson, CNC Turning Team Supervisor and Glassian Bedeau, CNC Operator/Setter/Programmer have understandably had some concerns with regards to working at the facility during the pandemic but the procedures in place have helped to ease this anxiety. They appreciate the help and support of all their Webtec colleagues who have continued to work on-site and would like everyone to remain optimistic. Both are missing family and are looking forward to catching up with them as soon as possible.
Health and safety procedures put in place to ensure that staff and visitors are safe are only one part of the story and it has been down to the hard work and dedication of Webtec’s production team who have kept safe and continued to manufacture customers’ orders to ensure that the company is best placed for future development when this time is over.
Click here to read our story titled 'When home working comes calling'