While some states in the United States are lifting shelter-in-place orders, most governors are still requiring residents to abide by these measures to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Wilden, a brand of air-operated double-diaphragm pumps manufactured in the PSG California facility, has been following this requirement since the Executive Order was issued March 19. Karl Buscher, president of PSG, a Dover company, answered questions from Pumps & Systems on the safety precautions the company put into place even before the order was issued, and what areas of the industry have adjusted their production during the pandemic.
Pumps & Systems: With Wilden based in California, how are operations going right now? Has anything changed with the schedules for your employees or permission to work from home for certain employees?
Buscher: Like the rest of the world, we are continuing to adapt and change our practices and policies as new information is available. Currently at PSG California, we manufacture not only Wilden products, but also All-Flo, Griswold, Neptune and EnviroGear pumps. Our operations are continuing for all product brands, and we are working daily with our suppliers to continue to bring raw materials into the facility while prioritizing critical orders to meet delivery dates.
Prior to the California governor issuing Executive Order N-33-20 requiring shelter-in-place on March 19, 2020, we had already taken measures to identify the roles that enabled work from home and set employees up to be successful in doing that. Today, all employees who can work from home are doing so. Resources are on-site at our production facility for the assembly and shipment of products and parts. For those employees who are working on-site, we have implemented procedures that follow the CDC [Center for Disease Control] guidelines.
P&S: Has anything changed on-site as far as PPE and the safety of your employees? How is the oversight for those changes being conducted?
Buscher: Yes, as the situation evolves we continue to add, change and enhance what we are doing to keep employees safe. Per the CDC guidelines, we have taken a number of steps, including:
- Mandatory wearing of face masks in the facility with daily replacements. Masks are provided daily to the employees to make sure they meet appropriate standards.
- Sterilization of work areas at the beginning and conclusion of every shift
- Weekly deep cleaning of the facility with a focus on the common areas
- Education on hygiene practices—all employees have access to sterilization products that can be used to clean personal areas as they see appropriate
- Social distancing
- Limit of one person per table in break areas
- A posted limit on the number of people allowed in conference rooms or break areas that adhere to social-distancing standards
- Yellow floor stickers in multiple areas to that remind employees to observe social-distancing protocols
- Adding an additional shift to limit the number of employees in the building at any time and to accommodate personnel who may have children that are home from school
- No visitors, contractors or guests are permitted on-site
P&S: Which processes are you seeing a demand for right now?
Buscher: Demand continues to increase in the manufacturing areas that are critical operations. Numerous reports are rolling in about North American distilleries and breweries, many “micro” and “regional” in size, that are repurposing their manufacturing capability to produce hand sanitizers that can assist with the shortage of this product during the country’s time of urgent need. Other businesses that are able to convert their manufacturing capabilities to add to the supply of critical products include paint manufacturers.
Beverage companies are currently starting to turn their manufacturing and sales efforts toward bottled drinks (think grocery stores, warehouse clubs, etc.) that are more tailored for home consumption, as opposed to fountain-style drinks that are typically tailored toward restaurant, bars/clubs, stadiums, etc., consumption.
P&S: How is the morale at your company and within the operations and maintenance crews, but also upper management? How are you maintaining regular communication with your employees and/or with your customers during this time?
Buscher: As the situation has continued to evolve, like the rest of the country, morale has a tendency to ebb and flow. People in general are very concerned about their health and the health of their families. We have taken steps to try to keep morale up and maintain communications.
We have a standard policy that employees who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms and/or who have self-identified as having been in contact with someone who is symptomatic or tested positive to isolate at home for 14 days and get a COVID-19 screen. Regardless if the test is negative or positive, they are instructed to not return to work until all symptoms have disappeared. When they wish to return to work, they are screened by way of a medical questionnaire before they are allowed back into the facility.
One of the most important aspects of this is communication across the facility. It builds trust and transparency. We have taken a number of steps in this area:
- We have set up a COVID-19 information board where all employees can view status updates on the key areas that we are managing on a real-time basis.
- Instituted a daily check-in process for safety procedures, supply levels and the status of all employees in the facility.
To keep up communications with our customers, we have gone virtual. We are offering a series of educational webinars on general pump technology and troubleshooting, as well as product-specific educational sessions. We are also offering virtual troubleshooting via video calls.
P&S: Is there anything else you would like to say about how operations are being handled during the pandemic?
Buscher: I would like to take a moment to thank all of the people and businesses that are working with us. We could not meet the needs of our customers without the dedication of our employees, distributors, suppliers and shippers who are working with all of the critical manufacturing businesses that are committed to keeping products flowing out to consumers.