Episode 3 of Amplify is live! Listen in below or read the transcript to hear Brad and Kiannah discuss how COVID-19 has impacted our everyday lives, and what we have done to adapt to the changes.
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:01] Welcome to Amplify, a podcast created to inspire our listeners to learn about today’s modern workspaces. I’m your host, Brad Schaefer.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:09] And I’m your host, Kiannah Vandenberg. Today, we will be talking about how COVID-19 has affected the manufacturing industries and what we have done to support the essential workers and environments during this time.
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:20] Like we have the last couple episodes, we want to start today’s episode off with the question, today’s question is kind of unique. The question is if someone gives you an elephant and you can’t sell it or give it away, what do you do with it?
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:35] Who is giving me an elephant?
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:37] Yeah, I don’t know. The question.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:40] Well, I don’t know. Um, well, I would definitely have to move out of my apartment because my elephant would not be happy in an apartment for sure.
Brad Schaefer: [00:00:49] Um, I think that, uh, with everybody, it doesn’t matter where you are. I don’t think an elephant would be happy in anybody’s house.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:00:56] But yeah, I’m I don’t know. I don’t know what I do. I mean, I guess I definitely maybe I’d move to Africa. I don’t know. How do you make an elephant happy?
Brad Schaefer: [00:01:06] I don’t know. What would make it happy would be food, water, shelter, I guess. Yeah, I don’t know. I guess by a big piece of property.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:01:14] Oh, you know what I would do if I had an elephant, I would make a zoo, because that is the first step, right. Is to have an elephant. And then you just add on after that.
Brad Schaefer: [00:01:25] I would agree with you. I mean, that way you can have, um, what I can’t think of the right word right now.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:01:32] You can show it off. Could you pay me three dollars? Look at it or whatever it is. Yeah. Let me just profit off my elephant. Why not?
Brad Schaefer: [00:01:42] For today’s episode, we wanted to take a look at how COVID-19 in this pandemic has changed industries not just in the US, but even some global things as well. Uh, and not only just industries, but we want to focus on how it’s affected our everyday lives and talk about that a little bit as well. So if I ask you the question, what have you done differently in your life since this happened, is anything that stands out?
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:02:08] I mean, a lot of things stand out to me. From shopping, like we talked about last time, socializing every day. I mean, I’m back at work now, but before it was remote and I mean, even being back at work, there’s mask’s, there’s sanitizer, there are all these different rules. I mean, it’s kind of crazy what today’s world looks like now.
Brad Schaefer: [00:02:29] So one of the things with the shopping that keeps coming up, I don’t know. But one of the things that has changed for us and since the beginning is when as soon as we get home for any groceries, we Clorox wipe everything.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:02:40] Oh, my goodness. I do not have the patience for that. I don’t have the patience to go grocery shopping in the first place. I definitely don’t have the patience to wipe down all my groceries.
Brad Schaefer: [00:02:49] It’s one of those things I think we started it when it first happened. Everybody was terrified that this thing was crawling on everything. So, yeah. So we wipe down everything with Clorox wipes and then wipe down all the surfaces that they all touched and made sure all the bags got thrown away in a specific location. Um, and then anybody that went grocery shopping showered and changed their clothes. I mean it was like. Things changed very drastically, very quickly in our household.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:03:19] That is some dedication.
Brad Schaefer: [00:03:20] But then I look at just other aspects for a lot of us, going to church on a Sunday was very restricted, if not impossible. And then now that we’re able to go back and in some instances that life has changed for us, um, masks are required for where I am. There are sanitizer stations everywhere. There are new processes and protocols and social distancing has made it very interesting.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:03:49] Yeah, it’s been very different. I mean, church for me, a lot of it was about community, and that’s just not possible anymore. I mean, it’s definitely different. I used to go out after church for lunch or for drinks or whatever, and you really just can’t do that anymore. Maybe with one or two people, but definitely not with like 12 or 15. It’s just changed a lot. You look at socializing in general. I mean, even friends, especially back in March and April, a lot of get-togethers were Zoom calls, which is something that was really never done before unless you were a thousand miles away from each other. Yeah. So it’s just very different.
Brad Schaefer: [00:04:26] Yeah. One of the things that changed for us is just the ability to go out to eat as a family. We’d probably go out maybe twice a week to dinner and just have something quick and take out. And now it’s like once a month if that. And even at that, we don’t go in, we go through the drive-through and then we’re weird about it. Yeah. I guess it’s a way to put it, but it’s just life is different, right.
Brad Schaefer: [00:04:55] I have a couple of kids in school and I mean, we think that our lives are different now. But a lot of these kids that are returning to school have been now for the last six weeks. Their lives are drastically different as well. My oldest boy is a freshman this year and he’s in a geometry class. When I was in school, my geometry class had like twenty-eight kids in it.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:05:16] Yeah, yeah, me too.
Brad Schaefer: [00:05:17] He says eight. And everybody is spaced out every six feet as much as they can at this point. On top of that, they have to wear masks. This life is different for them. They go to school at nine o’clock now instead of seven-thirty when I was in school.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:05:37] Oh. Um, I’m a little bit jealous.
Brad Schaefer: [00:05:39] Yeah, that’s true. They show up in school, obviously, they have to have a mask there. Temperatures are taken when they walk in the door, they have free breakfast for everybody. So they’re supposed to pick up your sack breakfast and take it to your first hour and eat it and then go about your everyday life.
Brad Schaefer: [00:06:03] But with that, it’s changed even more for the instructors. They now have multiple classes, from what I understand, they have the in-person classes that they’re teaching with those “option A students” is what we call those that return to the class. But then they have their virtual students that are online just learning remotely but they’re still instructed by the teacher. But not in person, so that the teacher now has to do a physical in-person class and then do something on top of that for the virtual class, and it’s pushed them to the point where they’re now. We’re asking students of requiring those that have decided to go back to school full-time to one day a week do virtually. So every Wednesday starting, I think, the middle of October, they’re going to do a virtual class. A virtual day of school, basically, and then go back to school Thursday, Friday.
Brad Schaefer: [00:07:02] It’s things are different and my kids chose to go back to school because they love to play sports, both highly involved in football, basketball, and track, and that was one of the key deciding factors that you go back to school. You’re allowed to play sports. That in itself has changed the ability to watch sports and attend sporting events. I mean, I watched an NFL game, the other son last Sunday and one of the guys scored a touchdown. I was happy and he jumped in the stands as they do. Yeah. And there’s nobody there.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:07:37] I know it’s crazy. I used to attend those football games and I used to be the one screaming in the stands when they scored and they made a touchdown and the football players would run up to us and high five everyone and, I mean, touch everyone. And that’s just not possible anymore. And it’s crazy to me to think that these football players are out there playing with I mean, there is an audience, but it’s so different because they’re not actually there. And I can’t even imagine how different they feel out on the field playing. It’s crazy.
Brad Schaefer: [00:08:06] Obviously. I think the professionals have it one way, but the high school kids and middle schools are slightly different, especially for our area. Each student is given each dressed football player at this point or the athlete is given two tickets. And those two tickets are the only two people allowed in the stands. So, I mean, my wife and I sat at a game last night and out of the bleachers that can hold five or six hundred people, we were one of ten couples that sat there and watched the kids play. Yeah, it’s crazy to me. It’s just life has changed. And you know what? We’re, again, very avid football family at this point. So we would attend every varsity football game on Friday night. And it’s probably been nine years that I have missed the varsity game. And this year I can’t go.
Brad Schaefer: [00:08:58] I have to sit at home and I had to purchase a subscription now to be able to watch the varsity football game. I mean, it was a decision I had to make, but it was like, I’m going to spend this much money going to the games or I’m going to spend this much money and then I can watch it every high school game. Yeah, definitely a different experience. It’s just weird. And this virtual thing has become the new normal is, I guess is a good way to put it, because we were talking a little bit about personal lives. But now if we go into the professional environment, the ability to work remotely and to do virtual meetings and online stuff and collaborate on the Web and the different cloud-based systems has just become a new way to do things.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:09:47] Yeah, the push to digital, everything from meetings to the way we talk to customers, to the way we even promote our brand, it’s just all been pushed digital.
Brad Schaefer: [00:10:00] I mean, even some of the things that have changed here, obviously we have the ability now to kind of fluctuate back and forth when it comes to working remotely. We are kind of limited capacity on our manufacturing floor. We’ve unfortunately had to reduce staffing enough to make sure we have the ability to social distance and implemented all kinds of different protocols, we’ve changed the way we do customer visits, we used to have customers come all the time and tour our facility and showroom and kind of give them the who and what of BUILT Systems. And now that’s almost stopped. Anything that is done that way has done virtually.
Brad Schaefer: [00:10:40] However, if you would call it a virtual meeting and people log in and we do a presentation and kind of walk them through who we are and what BUILT does. It’s just not the same. Looking kind of more big picture globally, even some of the larger process manufacturing plants have been impacted drastically. I think that the statistic was. Seventy-five percent of businesses in the United States have a supplier from China overseas. And when that product line stopped, when that was all halted because there was nothing coming in from China, that affected almost everybody and that disruption is what we’re experiencing now, because there’s a lot of paint, chemicals, and key ingredients that are coming from overseas that are no longer available. It’s affecting our ability to get certain colors and certain paints for our products. And then, as we talked earlier about the food industry, we personally have not gone out to eat as much, so their demand has dropped because I think everybody is kind of had. A lot of people have kind of had the same thing we’re doing now, going out to eat and doing things like that socially, as much so that demand has decreased.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:12:04] Yeah, the food and beverage industry, in my opinion, is probably one of the most affected right now. They’re hurting. I know that.
Brad Schaefer: [00:12:12] And going back into some of the industrial manufacturing, some of the larger plants we’ve seen in our area, a push for automation. We’ve seen a push for these ATV’s and things where it takes the human factor out of it. Not that they want to reduce staff, but they want to reduce the amount of interaction from person to person. So the ability to do the heavy thing, to put up partitions and have sanitizer stations and everybody’s wearing masks. And then, there’s the ability to do this 5S, this cleaning regimen that now, as part of I think everybody’s lives is something that needs to be looked at.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:12:53] Yeah, I think every industry is dealing with this in a different way, and every industry has had to change a lot of their processes because of it. I mean, here at BUILT, we’ve done a lot of things differently due to COVID. I mean, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, 53.5% of manufacturers anticipated a change in operations due to COVID-19. And we are definitely in that 53.5%. And we’ve changed a lot of processes. We’ve had to be adaptable. We even changed a lot of things back in March to supply a lot of health care workers with the things they needed. Do you want to touch on some products we made to help fight this pandemic?
Brad Schaefer: [00:13:32] With our capabilities as far as manufacturing and fabrication, we helped a couple of very large medical suppliers create parts for emergency beds to set up emergency hospitals and things like that.
Brad Schaefer: [00:13:47] We provided some of the medical industry with storage and racking and the ability to move heavy items up and down throughout different tiers and things like that. And even have started to manufacture face shields, all these different sanitizers, these different things that have now become just what we do, something we did because we wanted to help. We have all kinds of crazy abilities, we just wanted to get it out there and help out.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:14:21] We were able to do this and keep operating. It was that we were able to adapt to the changing environment in a huge way. I mean, we already had our 5S methodology implemented, something Brad touched on earlier, but we really kind of focused on it. And if you don’t know what that is, the five methodology kind of focus on five S’s. So those things are sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. So this method kind of keeps the workplace clean and organized while also creating a more efficient and disciplined work environment. And no matter what industry you’re in, you can kind of use this methodology to keep you adaptable and flexible, especially at this time.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:15:02] So to go through it, I mean, I kind of look at it in the same way you look at cleaning your house. So step one is sort so that’s where you kind of take everything out, look at everything and say, OK, where do these things go? So you’re looking at your bedroom during spring cleaning time. You kind of take everything out, take everything out from the closet, take everything from under your bed, and just look at it and say, where do these things need to go? What do I need? What do I not need? I mean, that’s the essential thing for spring cleaning is looking at what you don’t need and tossing it, throwing it away, getting rid of it so you’re more efficient in the long run.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:15:37] The next step is to straighten. And so that’s where you kind of look at everything and say, OK, these things need a place to go, you organize them, put them with like things.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:15:49] The next step is to shine. So that’s just where you clean everything, sanitize everything, wash things, just like washing the dishes. The next step, standardize. Put these things in place. Put them where they need to go for day to day use so that you always know where these things are. You can always go back to them and you know that they’re clean and ready to use. The next step is to sustain. So this is the last step. And it’s basically just saying that you need to sustain these processes in order for this to work for you to stay adaptable and flexible. Keep these clean processes, make sure you can sustain them, and teach your employees about it because this will help you in the long run.
Brad Schaefer: [00:16:28] I mean, you gave an awesome example here about cleaning the bedroom, and my mind automatically goes to the kitchen, I don’t know why, but when I don’t have time, I cook or I do something in the kitchen. If I’m measuring out some ingredients, I use the measuring cup and I automatically wash it and then put it back, put it away. And it’s one of those things, I think a lot of us do steps in the 5S process and we don’t know. We don’t realize that that’s actually what we’re doing, where we’re taking that time to sort, to pull out the things that we’re not using. I mean, OK, I have a family. Had a family of five down to four now because the one’s going to college. But there was a point where stuff kind of gets crammed in the cabinet. You don’t realize it’s there. There was a point where we think we had like 12 travel mugs. Yeah. How many travel mugs do you really need? Some of the missing parts and pieces? And so that’s one of those things where you start the sorting, you pull things out and put pieces together, get rid of what you don’t need to put back the stuff you’re going to use.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:17:34] Yeah. At the time, I mean, there’s you obviously don’t want to do this, like every day, the sort step. But there’s a time where you realize you need to make things more efficient and safer and easier because, in the long run, that’s going to save you so much time. I mean, think about it. We’re spending five minutes in the morning looking for this coffee mug. I mean, not doing that every day is just already that’s going to save you so much time in the span of a year.
Brad Schaefer: [00:18:00] Yeah. And it’s crazy how this ties in very much with one of the books I’ve been listening to lately called Extreme Ownership. And the very last chapter talks about how discipline equals freedom and how once you set the standard procedures in place and you get this process down of how to sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain, you keep doing it. You streamlined the way you do something that allows for more time and more flexibility going forward, now that you understand what your process is, you can, if need be tweaking here and there to give yourself a little bit of flexibility to modify this, to change that. And then you get more time as you talked about, instead of spending that five minutes looking for that one stinking little lid for the travel mug, because they’ve all been here, the whole cup and the lid and everything is right there.
Brad Schaefer: [00:18:51] You fill it up, you go on your day.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:18:55] That it’s a huge change, it’s a huge way of thinking, and I think a lot of us do it, we just don’t know it and we definitely do it a lot in our personal lives, but not so much in our work lives, I think.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:19:06] And that change of thinking to be more adaptable and flexible is really what you need to do, especially in time periods like this.
Brad Schaefer: [00:19:15] So, I mean, as awful and terrible as this COVID thing has been, I think it’s really changed a lot in our everyday lives and some of it is for the better.
Brad Schaefer: [00:19:24] We’ve taken the time now having to be, uh, I guess you could say, locked up with your family for those that had them and it gave you a little bit more time to reflect and get used to who they are. Again, there was a point in life where everything was go. There was no stop and talk to this person. Talk to that person. I don’t know, I think a lot of us have become closer as families because we spent that six weeks or whatever locked up in the house together, at least that has been the case from our house. And just the ability to be flexible, to change. From what we have been doing in the past to being able to modify that going forward and to be able to streamline the processes has definitely made us look at things differently.
Brad Schaefer: [00:20:18] We have to change. If you get stuck in doing it the old way, the same thing that we did 50 years ago, at some point it’s going to be phased out and we now have to evolve and go forward and change the way we do things. Having a good, clean, straightened 5S facility and life allows you to be flexible and manipulate those things to go into the future and like I said earlier, I think it’s one of those we do more often than we think. And it’s just become a part of our everyday life.
Kiannah Vandenberg: [00:21:02] Thanks for tuning in and listening to this episode, look for our next episode, where we will be interviewing Michelle Mancuso from BUILT Systems. We will begin to break down the design and capabilities of our assembly table series.
Learn more about COVID-19 and the 5S process in our recent blog post, Utilizing 5S Methodology During COVID-19.
Miss our previous episodes? Find all of our current episodes on our podcast website.