To better understand how bearing manufacturers are adjusting to the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been reaching out to industry thought leaders for their perspective. We recently corresponded via email with Pedro Pablo Andreu, COO of Fersa Group in Zaragoza, Spain to learn more about how FERSA is handling the outbreak. Here is his response, edited for length and clarity.
What modifications has FERSA made to working conditions (working remotely, teleconferences, layoffs, increased time off/sick leave)?
The company implemented strict safety protocols since February, for those ones who need to work in the plant, ad hoc PPEs, like masks and gloves, were introduced. All the rest are working remotely. Our ERP is 100% cloud-based therefore we had no major issues with adapting to the situation.
Assuming roughly two months of this “new normal,” how much of an impact do you think there will be on your day-to-day work, projects?
We do see the situation globally as a shock and that definitely has an important impact. Luckily, we have diversified our business and currently supply bearings for different market segments (from trucks to wind applications) in different regions (America, Europe, Asia, and Africa) therefore we can mitigate, partially, the effect of the disruption.
How do you think your job, in particular, can be handled during times of restricted personal interaction like these? What successes are you having in working with teams remotely?
We are currently present in three continents and, therefore, we are used to running transversal projects. We do have the hardware, software, and culture to adapt to the current situation, in terms of working processes, without any major disruption.
How are you maintaining employee productivity? What about mental health/worker morale? Where’s your focus there?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. The whole team needs to understand the goals of the company in this period, not only to survive but to thrive. They need to understand how their work contributes to the overall picture. Once they find meaning in what they are doing, you need to keep them focused on improving productivity, and define the frequency and way to communicate between them. Finally, you need to implement a goal-congruent-behavior.
How do you think engineers can maintain their creativity during these times of limited physical interaction with other team members?
They are used to work this way, since they manage projects involving Austria, Spain, the USA, China, Brazil…etc, therefore they are used to an “omnichannel” communication.
What message(s) do you wish to give to colleagues across the manufacturing world at this time? (Encouragement, warnings, helpful advice, etc.)
Priority one is surviving, everyone knows that. Keep bottom-line and cash under control are key to this – but at Fersa we think that we all need to think, “who do you want to be when this is over”. The pandemic will eventually be under control, and we all will be remembered by how we behaved. We do need to take this opportunity to become a better company and a better employer; we need to take this challenging opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.
How are you allow engineers to gain access to simulation software and data from outside the company firewall?
We do have most of our tools in the cloud.
What seems to be the main threats to your supply chain right now?
We are currently more concerned about the offer shock than supply chain threats, we do not foresee any major issue now or in the future.