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The impact of COVID-19 on manufacturing

Over January and February 2020, we experienced how the virus impacted China and its people. Many of our friends and colleagues were in lock down and manufacturing came to a halt over the two-month period.

Unfortunately, it affected our supply of PCBs, which also impacted the delivery of our PCBA products. Supply was very slow and at times our SMT line was stopped. At Precision, this is the first time we have experienced very late deliveries of PCBs; usually components are culprits for late deliveries.

Over the two-month period, we had issues communicating with our suppliers because most would state they are back but with only 50% staff, while the rest would gradually return depending on which province was affected the most. We soon discovered that each factory had to get permission from the Chinese Government to commence work on the condition they agree to implement all safety measures in place to control the spread of the virus.

This enabled and forced us to ask the right questions to ensure we have the correct information to keep our customers well informed. For example, the main questions to ask are:

  1. Do you have permission from the government to start work?
  2. How many production staff are back at work now?

As a backup plan for our customers, we have been sourcing PCB manufactures in other countries like Taiwan and Korea, and are currently investigating suppliers in Thailand, Malaysia and Australia for those customers that urgently require PCBs to keep their projects running smoothly.

It is important to keep all our customers well informed and we are pleased to say that the supply chain in China has improved as the virus spread is under control.

Although it has improved in China, the reality is that the virus has spread to other countries at an alarming rate. We are now experiencing restrictions in Australia, just as China experienced the same a few months back. Over the course of a week, reality has hit home, so as a responsible company we must take this virus very seriously. We have implemented new strategies (and practices) to ensure the safety of our staff, while ensuring the supply to our customers continues uninterrupted at all times.

Since Monday, 16 March 2020, we’ve implemented the following across Precision:

  1. We have asked our staff to stay at home if they feel unwell with suspected flu like symptoms, dry cough, sore throat, temperature, shortness of breath, body aches and fatigue.
  2. Employees (who are able to do so) have been asked to work from home until further notice.
  3. We have implemented restricted interstate and overseas travel for all staff. If any employee has returned from overseas, they must self-quarantine for a period of 14 days.
  4. All face to face internal meetings are cancelled until further notice. Meetings can only be conducted via phone or video conferencing.
  5. Hand sanitisers have been placed in 5 different locations throughout the company. Staff are encouraged to wash their hands regularly with soap and use the hand sanitisers as often as possible.
  6. If an employee has confirmed to have the virus, he or she must self-isolate for 14 days and their work area will be sanitised thoroughly.
  7. Factory staff will have no physical contact with office staff. We have also closed off areas in the company to make sure staff from each area will not come in close contact to each other. Any communications between the teams will need to be done via phone or video conferencing.
  8. Production staff are now split into 2 teams (Day shift and Afternoon shift). To ensure there is no physical exposure between the team members in each shift – we have implemented a 30 min break between each shift. This will ensure everyone from the Day shift will be out of the Precision premises before the Afternoon shift arrives.
  9. All factory workers will clean their work areas and tools before starting and leaving their shifts.
  10. All visitors (including customers) are not permitted to enter the Precision premises until further notice. If you want to pick up a delivery or need to meet one of our Account Managers, please call them directly on their mobiles or call our reception at +61 (03) 9875 7800 and someone will assist you with your enquiries.

Information on how to combat COVID-19 changes daily, so we must be very vigilant and change accordingly during these difficult times. We will update all our customers regularly on any future changes. Please bookmark our blog page or visit our LinkedIn page to keep up-to-date with everything that’s happening at Precision.

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