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Keeping our manufacturing operations moving throughout the pandemic

Wednesday 10th June 2020

As part of the wider Global Marine business, our UJ team are quite unique being one of our few product-led departments.

From our site in Portsmouth, our team create and assemble piece parts and UJ kits for customers right across the world, in support of subsea cable repairs that are vital for keeping us all connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Les Treagus, our General Manager there has been telling us a bit about how him and the team have been coping with increased orders at a time when social distancing has impacted their daily working practices, and supply chain consistency has posed a potential risk to meeting customer’s needs.

Can you tell us a bit about why keeping your team operational has been so important throughout Covid-19

What we do in building the UJ kits for our customers globally is more crucial than ever at the moment. Although only a small part in the wider telecommunications industry keeping us all connected, fibre optic cable faults, like those repaired by our colleagues onboard Global Marine vessels who support global maintenance zones, wouldn’t be able to be fixed as efficiently. As has been widely reported the world has seen an increased demand for internet connectivity, with more people than ever working from home, temporarily furloughed, or away from school, so the impact to downtime in that critical service is amplified.

Our orders are typically turned around within 13 weeks, which is something which we’ve endeavoured to preserve where possible for our customers, appreciating this increased need, which doesn’t show signs of diminishing any time soon.

How has the Portsmouth office been affected during the Covid-19 crisis,

We have a team of 15 employees here, and due to the nature of our work, we’re unable to work remotely. So since the outset of the pandemic, we’ve worked quickly to put measures in place to ensure that we can continue to work safely here in the warehouse.

The layout of the factory has made it so that social distancing could be implemented relatively easily, enhanced cleaning has been implemented and all staff have temperature checks at the start of the day and again four hours later. This data is recorded, to ensure we can quickly identify anyone who is showing symptoms of Covid-19.  This process also provides 1 to 1 time within the government guidelines with regards to social distancing, this gives the opportunity to check in each day with the team to ensure that everything is ok, and give the team opportunities to discuss the environment as well as raise any concerns.

We’ve also introduced flexible start and finish times to ease the pressure on staff with things such as transport and childcare.

The wider Group and support from our central RQHSE team has been really helpful, information is shared regularly and as policies have been revised or introduced, these have been shared with my team.

How have you helped to keep team morale high?

Since the start of this, regular all team meetings have been held and all staff have been given regular opportunities to discuss and raise any concerns. We’ve also been included in whole company updates so information has been flowing both ways throughout the last few months.

After some initial concerns, we were able to quickly put new processes into place which has enable the team to settle into a structured routine. And of course there’s the regular supply of biscuits and sweets to help keep energy levels high!

When lockdown has ended do you see any longer term changes for your team as a result of the Covid-19 crisis?

The increased cleaning and clean down routines are now best practice and something that we’ll definitely be carrying on with for the foreseeable future.

We will also be looking at way to continue giving our employee increased flexibility with their working day. This period in time has proven that we don’t need to do things as we always have in the past and I applaud my team for embracing the opportunity for change rather than accepting old ways.