How We Stayed Fully Operational During the Pandemic
During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the productivity of a significant percentage of U.S. businesses dropped dramatically. That was particularly true with companies that provide manufacturing-related services, like metal coating companies.
While many types of businesses were able to shift to working from home, that was not an option for coatings companies. If they did not have the flexibility to make changes that enabled them to keep production lines moving without endangering the health of their employees, they were forced to slow down or shut down entirely, leaving their customers scrambling to get the coated instruments, devices, and other items they needed.
Pivoting to Ensure Uninterrupted Coating Operations
ME-92 Operations was a notable exception to COVID-induced manufacturing slowdowns/shutdowns. As an organization that made the decision long ago to do all of our work in-house rather than sending parts out to have some of the coating steps (masking, for example) performed by subcontractors around the U.S. or overseas, we were fairly insulated from supply chain problems and other issues that affected many manufacturing companies during the pandemic.
We also felt a strong obligation to keep our customers supplied with the instruments and other items they needed. This included many items that people might not think of as “essential” during a pandemic—components like rollers used in machines that create the disinfecting wipes that were in such high demand, for example.
Several organizations we work with actually sent us letters explaining that their work was vital to the pandemic response and that our work was vital to them, and asking us to keep working if possible.
One way we responded to the challenges of the pandemic was quickly identifying the risk that a COVID-19 outbreak could put all of our employees out of action for an unknown period and addressing it by splitting our workforce into two shifts. That way, if someone tested positive for the virus, we could address the issue within their shift (at least initially) and keep the other shift operating, as usual, provided no cases occurred in that group.
Going the Extra Mile for Our Customers
Not only did our operational changes enable us to stay open during the pandemic, we understood the challenges that our customers were facing as a result of supply chain disruptions and did our best to help them make up for lost time.
For example, we brought a full crew in on a Saturday to help a long-time customer who was in desperate need of a rapid turnaround on some parts that had been delayed by supply chain problems. That customer sent a courier to our location to retrieve the coated items and was thrilled with the expedited service and the fact that the parts were ready for use the following day.
The Right Processes… and the Right People
ME-92 Operations was not, of course, envisioning a pandemic as we developed our production processes and business methodology over multiple decades. But it turned out that doing all our work in-house, having streamlined, well-documented procedures, and other steps we have taken positioned us perfectly to respond to this type of crisis.
However, processes are only part of the equation. We have also been very selective in our hiring through the years. And through our commitment to only employing the best in the industry, we have been fortunate to find people who are not only skilled and experienced but just as importantly, truly committed to the success of our customers.
All companies claim to provide great customer service—and many do—but the fact that every member of our team can see the world through our customers’ eyes and understand the demands on them has been essential to our success throughout our history, and particularly during the pandemic.
Applying Lessons Learned in the Pandemic
We are proud to say that even during a pandemic that stunned the world as it spread like wildfire, metrics like our lead times, project turnaround, and others didn’t budge and that we were able to continue supporting our customers effectively.
But it’s never a good idea to “rest on your laurels,” and we aren’t. We learned a great deal from this crisis and are feeding that knowledge into our continual-improvement process. Hopefully, the world never sees another pandemic of this magnitude again, but if we do find ourselves in a similar situation down the road, ME-92 Operations will be even better prepared to keep healthcare providers fully equipped.