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How Manufacturers Can Prepare for the Return to Work

As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out, and as government mandates and workplace safety requirements continue to shift, manufacturers across the country are wondering how best to return to work. From operating with skeleton crews to running at partial capacity for months, it can be hard to figure out how you’ll phase your team back to the “new normal”.

While the return-to-work process will look different across industries, states, and even cities, there are a few ways you can get started now, no matter where you are, or what your manufacturing facility looks like. Here are a few tips to help manufacturers prepare facilities for the return to work process. 

Start small, but start somewhere

With so much uncertainty, it can be difficult to know where to start. Many manufacturers are waiting for someone to make the first move. Instead of waiting for your competitors to determine a “back-to-work” procedure or for that big-budget approval to finally push through, it’s a good idea to identify a few small, cost-effective ways you can work to get production back up and running now. Here are a few specific solutions to get you started:

  • Workstations. Workstations serve a few purposes, from providing the ergonomic spaces your employees need to work efficiently, to offering a clear space delineation that can help your manufacturing facility comply with distancing guidelines. Tube and joint workstations provide the affordable, flexible solution you need to build workstations that work now, and that you can easily reconfigure as needs change. 
  • Space partitions and social distancing solutions. Reconfiguring your manufacturing facility doesn’t have to be expensive. Again, tube and joint construction provides a low-cost solution for manufacturers looking for ways to implement social distancing partitions that help employees feel confident and safe as they come back to work. 

Don’t wait to get business started again. Though the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly change the way manufacturers work, you can make small, low-cost steps now that will get you back to work faster, while helping bring you closer to whatever our “new normal” might be. 

Make use of what’s available to you

With smaller crews and lighter budgets, it’s important to make use of the tools you have on hand to get back to work as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. To avoid spending money on a solution you won’t use in the long run, it’s also a good idea to find the lowest cost option that can provide the solutions you need now, while supporting your larger, big-picture goals as they become more tangible. 

A few low-cost solutions that make use of what’s already available in your manufacturing facility include: 

  • Flow racks. Flow racks take advantage of something every manufacturing facility has on hand — gravity! These simple-to-assemble tube and joint solutions are simple to put together with just one or two people, and can help your facility do more with much less. Once loaded, flow racks make use of gravity to push parts closer to operators, making your manufacturing assembly process simple and efficient. 
  • Picking and kitting carts. Small, simple solutions can go a long way to manage big problems like organizing many SKUs. Again, build-it-yourself tube and joint picking and kitting carts are as easy to put together as a stack of Legos, and they offer all of the organization and storage your facility needs, without the big investment of solid steel warehousing structures. Make use of the team you have onsite to set up organization carts like this. Once implemented, your team will have a much easier time pulling products quickly and efficiently. 
  • Cost-effective automation options. Across the country, manufacturing facilities are having to do more, with less. Fewer skilled laborers and the need to reduce crews to keep people safe throughout the pandemic have contributed to manufacturing facilities with serious labor shortages. Automated processes can help, but powered automation solutions like conveyors and more can be expensive, which doesn’t fit many manufacturers’ tight return-to-work budget. Here again, low-cost solutions like flow racks — which use gravity to automate delivery — and right-sized carts, can help you do more with less. 

Stay Flexible!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past year, the only constant is change. With shifting regulations, new mandates, and ever-changing back-to-work guidelines, one thing is certain — you need solutions that can adapt as your facility does. 

That’s where modular solutions deliver. Geolean’s Makitlean products, from workstations and flow racks to picking and kitting carts respond to your current state seamlessly. As easy to rearrange as patio furniture, and simple for your team to construct and reconfigure in-house, you might be surprised to see how quickly you can return results with a minimal investment.

Find a Partner To Help You See These Solutions Through to Implementation

Discovering a low-cost solution to get your manufacturing company back to work is one thing, following-through on planning, order, delivery, and implementation is another. If your team just doesn’t have the capacity to handle planning, assembly, and implementation on your own, Geolean can help. As lean integrators, we believe in partnering with our clients to develop the low-cost solutions that get you back to work as efficiently as possible. 

Geolean’s specialty has always been delivering significant results with minimal investment. Our business was built on the model of delivering low-cost solutions, not just because times are tough, but because we believe in sustainable, affordable solutions that work for you now, and well into the future. 
For more information about our low-cost solutions, we encourage you to download our Low-Cost Solutions Brochure or reach out to our team for an accurate quote.

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