Social distancing in manufacturing

Given the current Covid-19 impact to the economy, many manufacturers have had to adapt their way of working. For instance, with greater demands placed on suppliers within the healthcare sector, some manufacturers have chosen to repurpose their products to support the needs for PPE. From volatile fluctuations in supply and demand to quickly switching to manufacturing different types of products, the supply chain has been profoundly affected by Covid-19.

Social distancing in manufacturing is another constraint. In the interest of keeping employees healthy, they must consistently stay two metres apart. Manufacturers have to determine what that means for receiving, production and shipping. If employees have to maintain a safe distance, how does that affect their critical daily operations? It begs the question – ‘how do supply chains remain operational amid social distancing?’

One way of enabling social distancing in manufacturing is the use of an automated supply chain technology. For example, Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management’s Warehouse management module can intelligently coordinate warehouse zones to help maintain social distancing practices. Below is some of the functionality in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management to support manufacturers in optimising production while enabling social distancing.

Promote social distancing in manufacturing while providing efficient picking processes and working zones

With the government recommending social distancing of at least two metres apart, zone or aisle picking practices require some thought to maintain the health and safety of the workforce.

Warehouse management in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management provides organisations with the flexibility to define their warehouse layout based on changes to their operations as a result of social distancing. Warehouses can be divided into zones to accommodate the storage of goods based on various factors such as fast-moving stock or temperature-controlled materials. Within a zone, you can link storage locations based on the physical area in the warehouse and logical flows between locations. All sites will include a location profile that defines the capacity constraints and storage rules for types of locations. Once the warehouse, zone and location profiles are defined, the location setup wizard can be used to generate the required locations.

I addition, when setting up zones and locations, manufacturers can consider other restrictions such as restricted use of forklifts or limitations to the number of personnel who can work in an area at any one time.

Easily stagger shift patterns and maintain production performance

With decreased worker density, improving and optimising production performance is vital. As manufacturers look to change their working schedules and stagger shift patterns as a means to adhering to social distancing rules, the planning of activities based on real-time demands and constraints is crucial in supporting this goal.

The planning optimisation feature in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps to establish planning runs to support the allocation of work based on demand. This means manufacturers can more effectively plan shift patterns based on demand and comply with social distancing practices.

Enable remote repairs on machinery

Repair and maintenance of machinery are vital to ensure operational continuity. So, how can equipment and machinery be repaired without requiring a team of engineers to work beside each other? The answer lies in the Asset Management, Field Service and Dynamics 365 Guides features that integrate with Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.

The seamless integration between these applications provides engineers with the ability to remotely repair and maintain equipment. Once a work order is allocated in Asset Management, an engineer can access the repair details through Dynamics 365 Field Service, giving them visibility into the work to be carried out and any working restrictions.

To guide the engineer through repairs, Dynamics 365 Guides provides step-by-step instructions through a HoloLens. Engineers can see written instructions, markings, and animated steps as they look at the physical environment. This means that repairs can be facilitated remotely without the assistance of additional engineers, helping manufacturers to repair and maintain equipment remotely and safely.

As supply chain disruptions persist and social distancing remains the norm, manufacturers need to assess their operations and look to intelligent technologies to build a more resilient supply chain, maintain operations and help provide social distancing measures.

To delve deeper into some of the intelligent supply chain capabilities, read our guide ‘Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management’.

Access a wide range of resources in our business continuity hub.