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Innovative thinking during a pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has been a global event which has rocked so many aspects to businesses across the world. It has not only affected on a personal level, but also in how we all carry out our work, serve our customers and, in general, manage our businesses.
For us at Daniels, it has been no different. Our business has had to change like many – but not in ways that we could have ever thought.
Before the pandemic, our strategic roadmap was laid out for the next two years and one of the biggest elements was indeed to increase capacity within our production facilities as well as in our internal systems and processes. We anticipated growth for the next few years due to being able to offer our WIVA™ containers to existing SHARPSGUARD® customers, and vice versa.
Little did we know.
Here are a few insights into what we have been doing in our business since lockdown. There have been some really challenging aspects – because of the short timeframes, for planning logistics and measuring and weighing up possible solutions in order to maintain consistency of supply.
Don’t get me wrong there have also been some inspiring moments in seeing how our internal teams and our customers have pulled together to work together to adjust to this temporary “new norm”.
Here are three areas I’d like to share with you where we have focussed on since lockdown:
1. Identifying where we need to focus our energy
More than two thirds of our customer base lie with the NHS and within hospital settings. With these customers being the hardest hit in this pandemic in terms of their capacity needing to ramp up, these are the ones we had to look at first.
Our first priority was to look at ways we could ensure continuity of supply, even under extreme demand pressure.
Our commercial team engaged with our NHS customers to identify specific products that would experience a surge in demand over the coming weeks and months. This information allowed us to understand what was needed of us, and how we could re-organise and potentially rationalise the SHARSPGUARD® and WIVA™ range to best support the NHS in these unprecedented times.
2. Adapting our factory flow and concentrating on the right machinery
Very quickly we could see from the volume and frequency of orders that we would need to take what we had learned and prioritise production accordingly. Our production and logistics team got to work planning how we could temporarily streamline our product range to maximise efficiency and output from the factory while minimising any disruption to the users of our products.
This rationalised range is kept under weekly review, thanks to the up to the minute information received from our partners at NHS Supply Chain. This team work effectively allows us to anticipate changes and act as quickly as physically possible (at scale).
3. Looking ‘outside the box’ for help
When restructuring our factory flow to focus on prioritised items, we also looked for solutions that would provide both greater warehouse space and additional production capacity to continue supplying as wide a range of containers as possible.
At our factory location in Littleborough (Lancashire) we have great relationships with other local businesses, one of which happens to be AMS Plastics – a plastic injection moulding specialist. We entered into discussions with their managing director, Jim Kelly, about ways in which we could work together during this time.
We focussed particularly on our DANIELS® Transport Containers, these are a range of safe, easy to use and cost effective re-usable containers, designed to transport samples, tests and other specimens between healthcare sites and in the community. With the Government increasing focus on testing these products are in huge demand, so we had to find a way to continue to manufacture these en-masse.
We were delighted to come to an arrangement with AMS to work with our qualified team to ensure that their factory facilities could be adapted to manufacture our transport containers safely and efficiently. Alongside B&H Mouldings, which produces the transport containers, AMS produced the components (small lids) to allow us to increase the capacity of supplying the small containers to NHS (the small lid fits on 2.5L, 3.75L and 5L).
There is no manual or best practice guide for operating in a pandemic. All that we, as businesses in the UK and beyond, can do is adapt and change and keep looking to the horizon.
I am very proud of our team at Daniels for their fortitude, positive mindset and their passion for looking after our customers. Thank you!
I’d also like to say that, even after so many years in the healthcare industry, I am still humbled to see how gracious, selfless and determined our customers are about the health, wellbeing and safety of their patients and their staff. It is an honour to work with you.