The Challenges of Working with COVID in the Metal Industry.
Posted on February 08, 2021 by Don Clarke, Chairman & CEO, Impact Ireland (Metals) Ltd
With divisions in Dublin, Cork and Belfast on the island of Ireland, Impact Ireland (Metals) Ltd. has seen almost everything over the years of trading in Ireland, the UK and around the world. Then came COVID-19 and all the challenges that it brought to local and global business.
When the pandemic hit us here in Ireland in mid-March 2020, just before St Patrick’s Day, no one knew if this was a short-term issue or something that would affect every person on earth. Unfortunately, the latter was the case.
Like all responsible companies, Impact Ireland (Metals) Ltd. followed Government advise and immediately implemented safety procedures including rotation of staff, working remotely, additional training, and safety screens, and mask-wearing. Temperature monitoring stations were set up around the warehouses and offices.
The challenges were two-fold, firstly there was the physical work involved in moving, cutting, storing, and dispatching metal and engineering plastics. Fortunately the facilities in all 3 locations are large open spaces with plenty of ventilation. The company has been vital in supplying material as part of the supply chain in manufacturing components for the medical industry, especially ventilators in the initial phases of the pandemic. Many companies in Ireland closed their doors, while Impact Ireland (Metals) Ltd. continued to supply our customers in industries ranging from machine shops making components to OEM’s in the aviation and medical device sectors.
Since March 2020, Ireland went into several lockdowns of different levels. These waves affected industry and society in general in many ways (staying at home and then opening for a while before closing again). The trick to dealing with the roller coaster was to carry out a steady production rather than reacting with each wave movement. This controlled approach provided customers with a level of confidence. If a delivery date was agreed, then it was met!
The second challenge was the simple communication with customers and potential customers, so the customer service/sales/ marketing activities had to adapt and adapt fast. The days of going out to visit customers were put on hold. Our team moved over to virtual meetings from the office and home. It was imperative to keep the customers informed at all times and react to their requirements and challenges.
All of our scheduled trade exhibitions were cancelled; in some cases, we replaced them with successful virtual exhibitions. We also upgraded our groups websites functionality and engaged in direct mail campaigns online and “snail mail”. COVID-19 has been the catalyst in encouraging us to upgrade our communications and business development program.
As the vaccines roll out across the world, it is time to reflect on the changes we made to our business, to help us serve our customers better as the world re-opens in 2021.