Proud to be recognized for being resilient despite the pandemic
No government or business was prepared for Covid-19.
According to a report by the US Congressional Research Service published earlier this month, “the pandemic has disrupted lives across all countries and communities and negatively affected global economic growth in 2020 beyond anything experienced in nearly a century”. Figures collated by various agencies show that the virus reduced global economic growth in 2020 to an annualized rate of -3.4% to -7.6%. The rate of recovery is forecast to be between 4.2% and 5.6% in 2021.
Think-tank McKinsey, on the other hand, has sounded the warning bell because its predictive models suggest that Covid-19 will cost the world between US$16 trillion and US$35 trillion by 2025.
To ensure business isn’t hit further and can recover as the world’s population gets vaccinated (as of mid-July, nearly half the population of high-income countries received at least one dose of the vaccine) – organizations are doing everything they can to become resilient.
In the manufacturing industry, becoming resilient essentially means securing the supply chain and protecting the workforce.
At Advantage Engineering, we’ve made great effort in both areas and are inspired by the results. While we’re proud of the impact we’ve made on the lives of our team during the pandemic, I don’t deny that it feels great to be recognized by one of our leading clients in the automotive space.
Just a few weeks ago, General Motors’ annual Supplier Quality Excellence Awards recognized Advantage Engineering for its performance in the calendar year 2020. Earned during the pandemic, we believe that the award is not only a reflection of the quality of what we produce but also a strong indication of our ability to stay resilient during tough times.
Securing the supply chain against Covid-19
The pandemic delivered significant blows to supply chains across industries, time and time again, interrupting the smooth flow of goods from one part of the world to another.
According to a McKinsey report cited by the US Congressional Research Services, up to 26% of global goods exports, worth approximately US$4.6 trillion, could potentially move to new countries over the next five years if companies restructure their supplier networks. Does this mean near-shoring will become a trend again? Maybe.
Advantage Engineering does much of its trade in North America, whether it is buying raw materials or supplying to some of the largest automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, or medical devices companies in the world. Much of this involves moving materials across the border from our manufacturing facilities in Windsor, Ontario in Canada by road.
During the pandemic, our management as well as our human resources team closely monitored not only the changes being made to policies by the US and the Canadian governments but also the recommendations being shared by leading health agencies across the world, to ensure our logistics team were compliant and safe when making deliveries in the region.
At its core, the changes we’ve made are simple yet effective – and our logistics team has embraced them comfortably. Our facility is designed to enable trucks to enter the loading bay – which means, drivers don’t need to get out of the vehicle at any time. Paperwork is handed off through windows as well. If drivers do wish to use the facilities, protocol is followed to screen them for Covid-19. Everyone understands why these new processes are important which is why everyone is happy to co-operate.
Protecting Team Advantage
I believe our human resources team did a commendable job during the pandemic to keep everyone safe. Their efforts have resulted in a workplace that’s not only compliant with provincial and federal laws but also as secure as possible.
When you’re managing people, especially a 130-strong team of workers and professionals, there are many factors at play in any situation – and the pandemic was no different.
In the initial months, there was a bit of a scare and people were worried about the fact that the disease was more contagious than common flu and far more dangerous. That definitely hit morale.
To ensure that everyone felt safe, we needed to take a number of steps including hiring more staff to sanitize high-touch-surfaces in our facilities, devising a shift-system for breaks so staff could be responsible and socially distance themselves, separating workstations with plastic dividers, and even offering to isolate workers in specific sections of the shop floor – as far as possible.
Speaking candidly, I’m proud we did more than just the bare minimum. We took the pandemic seriously from the get-go and followed every guideline to protect our team. Over time, client organizations shared minimum standards for their suppliers to ensure safety during Covid-19, and I’m happy to report we always found ourselves ahead – every time.
At the end of the day, however, I must admit that we did have our fair share of scares, and a few of our workers did get infected. We handled those situations well, ensuring the right people within our organizations and in our public health unit were informed to facilitate contact tracing and share precautionary measures. As an organization, I think what really worked was that we all had each other’s back – that’s what ultimately help manage schedules, optimize workloads, and deliver quality products to customers, on time every time.
I hope things return to normal soon. However, I know Advantage Engineering has become more resilient in the past couple of months – and I have too. As a senior management professional, the pandemic has taught me the value of patience. With more than 220,000 sq. ft. of operations, tackling policy and personnel changes has required a shift in tactics, and patience has been at the core of everything I’ve helped Team Advantage handle effectively.