In the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s 12th town hall since COVID-19 began, two leaders from leading tape manufacturer, IPG, shared details of their company’s response plan.

Council members tuned in to hear Jai Sundararaman and JK Perumal, both of IPG’s Business Transformation Office, outline their approach to protect employees, assets and customers as regions begin reopening and recovery from the pandemic continues.

Here are the highlights from their presentation.

Coordinating Key Stakeholders and a Response Framework

For IPG, a company with 3,700 employees and 31 locations (including 27 plants), strong cross-functional communication and collaboration is key to following the processes of their COVID-19 Response Playbook.

Sundararaman said key stakeholders meet periodically in five groups to discuss various topics: COVID process implementation, functional leadership alignment, best practice sharing and lessons learned, executive alignment, and sales, operations and corporate town halls.

The company also has its response plan broken down into four key parts:

1) Proactive Communication: Microsoft SharePoint portal to get communications out to employees, including the latest company policies and procedures and updates on federal, state, and local guidelines.

2) Prevention: Cleaning and sanitization processes as well as social distancing and remote working rules.

3) Response Plan: How to respond to incidents with minimal interruption and activate ‘ready-to-go’ resources like cleaning kits.

4) Best Practice Sharing and Technology: Quicker knowledge transfer across locations as well as the evaluation of technologies to manage risk and automate processes.

Communication in All Forms

Since IPG has multiple locations with essential employees still on the job, it’s critical that policies are clearly communicated to employees no matter where they are working.

The SharePoint portal, which gained 9,300 visits in eight weeks, communicates the latest information to employees and acts as the single source of truth. Sundararaman said the portal includes a ‘hot button’ section where workers can quickly see whether an emergency has occurred and how the company is handling it. Outside of the portal, employees also receive multiple forms of communication on a regular basis, including emails, virtual town halls, memos, videos and more.

Onsite at their facilities, IPG has posted detailed signage with COVID-19 state and federal requirements as well as the same information that appears in SharePoint.

Cleaning and Sanitization Processes

Across its 27 plants, IPG needs to ensure that thorough cleaning and sanitization processes are followed as employees continue to work onsite.

Sundararaman showed a spreadsheet that tracks 60 items that need to be cleaned on a regular basis throughout the facilities. The company bases its cleaning procedures on CDC recommendations, with one- or two-hour cleaning rotations and new centralized cleaning stations. For example, equipment that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis now includes a red sticker indicating that it’s a shared surface and should be wiped down.

Employees are also given written instructions (with step-by-step photos) on how to clean equipment, as well as the necessary supplies.

Social Distancing Policies

Sundararaman said 95%+ of the common areas in their plants have implemented social distancing. The company keeps track of those areas, how frequent they’re used and their risk factors in a detailed spreadsheet. At facilities, they’ve installed plexiglass barriers, screens and curtains between workstations and floor markings to help employees stay six feet apart or more.

Cutting Edge Technologies

Perumal explained how IPG is continuously evaluating new technologies that can help activate their response plan. Some of the solutions they’re considering include:

  • UV/Ozone disinfection using UVC light and ozone to sanitize areas and objects
  • Camera monitoring to assess social distancing performance
  • Social distancing wearables to alert workers when distance is not maintained
  • Touchless entry and exit
  • Temperature monitoring

Learn More from MLC/NAM

The MLC/NAM is arranging additional calls to discuss how manufacturers are dealing with COVID-19. The next town hall will take place on June 16 at 11 am ET. Details on additional calls will be released as they are available.

In the meantime, if you have any tips or best practices on how your company is keeping employees safe and/or is acting to minimize business disruption during this time, please share them at mlcouncil@nam.org.