COVID-19 has hit manufacturing hard with supply chain disruptions and demand for products decreasing as global lock downs remain for months on end. In our 25 years of business, General Die Casters has weathered many challenges including a fire that stopped production for 2 weeks, The Great Recession and even a flood. During this time of uncertainty, we look at our past as a guide for how to move forward and continue to provide unparalleled product and service to our customers. We have always done our best work when pushing our plant to capacity with deadlines quickly approaching and are moving forward with focus and purpose. Just like an Olympic athlete can only perform at that peak level during the pinnacle event, an organization needs that sense of intense purpose to excel.
So, how do you energize your plant when business is slow? What improvements can be gained other than cleaning the same electrical panel seven times?
We are using this time to double our focus on an existing project, General Die Casters University (GDCU). I conceived this project while working part time at General Die Casters in college. At the time, tribal knowledge was a valuable currency and every die caster had their own notebooks where they maintained their casting secrets. I imagined taking all that valuable information and creating an employee development program that would teach all employees how to properly accomplish any task, as well as provide our employees with clear progression from entry level to high level positions for those motivated to advance.
25 years later, I’m CEO and we all have 4K video cameras in our pockets. It seemed like it was time to act. We kicked off GDCU in the fall with several classes teaching new operators proper safety procedures and how to operate a die casting machine. Our intention behind launching GDC University is to create a framework across our organization to ensure employees are properly trained on all aspects of die casting from operating machinery to advanced process engineering. Our goal is to have all 200 of our employees enrolled in GDCU by 2021 because we knew that creating content for every job and process would take time.
So, when COVID-19 impacted our industry and we suddenly had time, we decided to charge ahead with GDCU. As we started editing and reviewing the videos, we started to find another unexpected benefit, one that may eventually outweigh the initial goal. While watching these processes in a different way, it was extraordinarily clear how many steps of our processes are unnecessary and inefficient. We hit the pause button on mass generation of training videos. We decided to instead use the approach to first examine and improve each process and then document for sustainability and education. Witnessing our team members actively and passionately participate in this process has been extremely rewarding.
GDCU training video example
I am excited to see the benefits that we will gain across our operations as we work through this project. I hope that other manufacturers are being creative and are finding ways to make the best out of the worst of times.