38 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
The entire state of manufacturing has been affect-
ed by the COVID-19 pandemic and has hurt busi-
nesses and workers throughout the world. During
this time, we can either let it destroy us or begin
rebuilding. This can be a chance to begin a reset
that is otherwise impossible during normal opera-
tion due to cost of shutting down.
It’s time to rethink 5S, green initiatives, lean principles and
processes. It’s time to consider the preventive maintenance
schedules, the capital investments and the plant layouts. This
is when we look at how we use automation, where robotics
can be input and what kind of new work in process move-
ment and staging can we devise to reshape how we handle
fabrication of our products.
The idea that this situation has been detrimental to our
economy and workforce can be turned around and used as
a time to do the things we always wanted but could not af-
ford to do. The foundation to any lean or Six Sigma system
is, of course, 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardize and
sustain). We all know how difficult it can be to clean an
area, tape and label it out all while the work cell is in nor-
mal operation. Having workers either away from the job or
spread out enough due to social distancing guidelines cre-
ates a perfect time to do this project. Just as spring cleaning
can help give you a fresh start to a year, this opportunity
can as well.
This can be the springboard to doing more lean initiatives
once things get back to normal or time to create the new
normal for your facility. New and old continuous improve-
ment ideas can be brought back from the graveyard or park-
Crisis sparks opportunity for
manufacturing reset
Pandemic shutdown provides a chance to rethink and retool processes
By Charles Sandiford
August 2020 | ISE Magazine 39
ing lot to be reviewed and put into practice. Training with
these new processes can be done as a fresh start when the
workers return.
Green initiatives and environmentally friendly manufac-
turing are always listed on posters put up throughout a facil-
ity but rarely taken seriously or as far as they can be due to
the tremendous cost of interrupting the work. LED lighting
with sensors, water reduction kits, smart power grid solu-
tions, solar panels, electric car charge stations, air/gas savers
and recycling programs can be installed and launched. This
can be a time to come out of this to get your plant at or above
industry standards in this movement and save money right
out of the gate when reopening.
This is the time to invest in your future. Whether or not
we agree on the ideas of green manufacturing, it is coming
and coming fast. Public opinion on the matter has turned
and is being pushed in all sectors. People are paying more
for more environmentally friendly services and are conscious
about how and where their products are made. Most of these
initiatives have moderate return of investment rates that are
less than the cost of the new technology needed to increase
productivity or quality but will give you a return in the social
factor as well.
A review of value stream maps and current processes can be
done to find redundant and wasteful activities to be changed
now for the better. We can look at how we do things now
and be satisfied with status quo or truly go after the continu-
ous improvement philosophy we preach and print on ban-
ners. This reset can allow us an opportunity to see where
we have too high of head count and where we dont have
enough. Cross-training for flexible situations can be identi-
fied and started to help this process. Ideas for automation or
robotics can be identified and plans put in place to implement
them. Machines that are worn and badly maintained can be
xed or replaced during this time and preventive mainte-
nance can be added to the regular schedules.
Speaking of schedules, this is also the perfect time to fine-
tune your scheduling procedure and make tweaks that are
hard to do on the fly. So much of what we do is based on
just in time, safety stocks in inventory or other processes we
have wanted to change to better react in all situations. This has
taught us that we must be able to modify what we are doing
based on the supply chain struggles of today. With the current
situation putting a public spotlight on our supply chain func-
tions, we should do the same in our own houses to ensure we
are doing right by our investors, customers and employees.
The challenges we all saw coming but have never had the
gap in time to experiment or change can be handled now.
We can implement those figures that have been modeled or
written about in textbooks and journals that we have envied
but never had the availability to try.
Instead of looking at this situation only as a bleak and un-
relenting time for manufacturing, lets look at it as a fresh
start. This can be our time to bring the ideas we have al-
ways wanted to move forward in our organizations to reality.
Whether you are a plant manager or a junior level process
engineer, let’s revisit old ideas and think of new ones to help
bring us out of this stronger than ever.
This is the time where creativity will not only allow you
to swim with the rest of your competitors but to rise above
and become the company you have promoted in the well-
worded goals you ensure all your employees memorize. As
my favorite author Ayn Rand states in her greatest work,
Atlas Shrugged: “Live and act within the limit of your knowl-
edge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life.
Charles Sandiford is a manufacturing engineering supervisor for the
fabrication department at Tennant Co. in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Min-
nesota. The company produces scrubbers, sweepers and floor coatings.
He holds double bachelors degrees from Bemidji State University and
is halfway through his masters degree in operations management at the
University of Arkansas. His previous work includes manufacturing,
industrial and process engineering specializing in metal fabrication, and
he has worked extensively with the business sector as well.
Webinars offer business strategies
for helpful advice in crisis
Recent webinars in the IISE Chapter 1 Crisis-Focused
Performance Excellence series address key challenges,
opportunities and strategies for businesses to address during the
COVID-19 pandemic and reopening of the economy.
“Pioneering and Engineering a New World” by Jim Dobson,
manager of business planning & industrial engineering for a
major theme park, focuses on how ISEs can take advantage of
the “perfect storm” opportunity and play key roles in thought
leadership and strategy, planning and execution.
“Resilience Re-examined: Re-engineering How We do
Business and Ensure Public Safety” by Vinny Monteiro, project
manager at Goldratt Consulting, shares strategies from Utah’s
move in Phase 2 of the economic recovery, centered on three
phases of response: urgent, stabilization and recovery.
“The Role of Data and Information (Engineered Management
Systems) in Periods of Major Disruption” by Ben Amaba, global
chief technology officer for the industry sector at IBM, and
Jared Frederici, senior consultant at The Poirier Group, share
tips on how to “bolster,” re-engineer and fine-tune engineering
of management systems, specifically the role of data and
information management.
To access recorded versions of the webinars and others in the
series, visit link.iise.org/chap1webinar_archive. For a schedule
of upcoming webinars, visit iise.org/webinars.