The start of 2020 brought with it a global pandemic, which has not only tragically taken many peoples’ lives, but has also threatened livelihoods, and the stability of innumerable companies. The pandemic has caused a fundamental shift in working patterns and a complete re-think in the way many businesses function.
Nordiko pre-empted the Government’s lockdown instructions by a week, during which we made preparations for as much remote working as possible. This was a remarkably smooth process and very quickly those that could work remotely were doing so. We also set up a rota for members of staff to work at the company in order to continue to accept deliveries and to arrange the despatch of spare parts. We furloughed our two apprentices, as temporarily we did not have an effective means to provide them with guidance and supervision. We also furloughed one other member of staff.
Nordiko was fortunate that we had fair cash reserves and we were expecting a couple of major orders. As a SME (Small-Medium sized Enterprise) we mange our cash flow carefully and we treat our small (typically local) vendors respectfully and sympathetically in terms of prompt payment.
As a manufacturer of capital equipments broadly we require two types of goods. We design a variety of mechanical and electro-mechanical parts and assemblies which are typically made by local suppliers, with whom we have had a relationship for many years. The other class of goods is OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts which we source from across the world. Our approach to selecting OEM items is that we use those items we consider best-in-class. We source a number of key items from Japan, the USA and within Europe. While we have noticed some delivery schedules extending, in general these are manageable. Interestingly the biggest issue is that many US OEM vendors have products made in China and these have seen the longest delays. Delivery services have proved to be robust.
Some of the parts that we have made to our drawings and specifications are very specialised and there are not many vendors that can provide the quality of the parts we require. In these areas we endeavour to ensure we have a second source. Sometimes the second source may be a smaller outfit, sometimes they may be a very much larger (but more expensive) supplier. We did have concerns regarding the ability of some of our smaller suppliers to cope with the change of circumstances. To assist them we have pulled forward requirements and have also launched new development projects that require new parts and assemblies to be made. With one exception we have found that our local supplier base has coped well. One valued vendor has entered liquidation, and has ceased trading. Fortunately for us the diversity of our vendor base ensures there is an alternative source for the parts they make for us.
At the time of writing those staff we furloughed have returned to duties, one on site and others working from home, or mixing time working at home and in the facility. We are presently working with the attendance within our facility at up to 50%. This allows a useful involvement of all staff through a rota and ensures that we can maintain effective social distancing within the workplace. For tasks where this is unachievable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is available and is used.
Support services are busy, albeit in a remote fashion. We have started to provide on-site support to UK customers, on a case by case basis. International travel remains a concern and our present policy is to avoid it. Later this year we shall need to come to terms with air travel since we will have to deploy resources overseas to install and commission new systems.
On an up-beat note the orders we were expecting materialised on schedule and we have found that the productivity of those staff working remotely is high.
It remains for the entire Nordiko team to extend their best wishes to all of our customers, as together we face the evolving pandemic and economic crisis. Life and commerce goes on as we all adapt to enable a new realisation of the business we enjoy and love.
15th June 2020