As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase exponentially, especially in our home state of New York, we all are experiencing the difficulties of this time. While we’re stationed on the opposite side of the state from NYC, we still have higher numbers of cases compared to other areas. Each day brings more news and a changing environment for manufacturing critical components.
Here are a few things we are working through as we keep our production lines moving.
Shelter In Place Orders
The Governor of NYS has signed a few executive orders limiting workforces. NYS is under a 100% reduction in nonessential workforce. Many of our customers have sent us letters stating that we provide critical components in the fight against COVID-19, thus exempting us from these workforce reductions.
We also have seen letters stating we supply critical national defense and critical infrastructure. With this, we have filed the proper paperwork with the state to continue production at our facility. Our goal is to continue to provide critical sealing solutions for essential businesses, including the medical industry.
Employee safety is our top priority. We have taken the necessary steps to provide a safe work environment for the employees that need to be working on the plant floor. Based on the current guidelines for COVID-19, we established our best practices for working environments.
Work stations have been spread out in the plant so our employees remain well past the six feet distance rule when working
Additional lunch space was created to maintain social distancing
Extra staff was brought on for continuous cleaning of high contact areas
High-risk employees were given additional considerations
Increased compensation for personnel working during this critical time
All personnel that can work from home were set up on virtual desktops to allow access from home. We increased bandwidth to help prevent slowdowns with connections, VPNs were set up to assure proper network security and our ERP system allows easy access to inventory, accounting, production and CRM functions for all off-site employees. Our phones are also redirected to our home employees.
Inventory, Inventory, Inventory
10 years ago, we used inventory consultants to work on better models to base safety stock levels on previous demand instead of forecasting based on current orders. This allowed us to have more inventory to ship to our customer that pulled in orders to meet the needs from COVID-19.
With our large inventory of o-rings, we are able to meet new customers’ supply needs. Having standard AS568 or ISO 3601 sizes, as well as non-standard sizes is essential to meet new requests for o-rings. As hard-hit global industrial zones are forced to close, companies need to have new supply chains for critical components. Having o-rings in stock at all times has helped many of these companies.
Not only do we stock finished products in our inventory, but the same model also helps us with raw materials. With our wide selection of rubber compounds, we maintain safety stock levels to assure quick production of some made-to-stock items, as well as long lead time raw materials. This has allowed us to produce increased demand quickly, well exceeding the industry standard lead times.
Prototype to Production
Normal medical design timelines are very long. Going through validation phases and FDA approvals can take years to complete. Apple Rubber continues to provide prototype parts to the medical industry, especially in the ventilator and medical testing platform market.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen quick approval by the FDA, which has resulted in prototype to production level orders. Making products in our US plant allows for quicker lead times and our in-house mold making capabilities enable us to turn prototype tooling into production high-cavity tools for increased throughput.
Apple Rubber continues to support the effort globally to fight the COVID-19 virus–providing critical sealing components to the medical industry for quick testing and life-saving ventilation, as well as continuing to support our national defense and critical infrastructure.