15 December, 2020
Covid-19 Shines Light on Future Trends
Covid-19 has brought profound challenges for the traditional manufacturing sector.
a factory - unlike in the service industry - people need to be on-site
to run and oversee the processes. However, the Covid-19 lockdowns and
restrictions in South Africa and in many other countries required that
factories close for some time and that people work from home, posing a
great difficulty for manufacturing.
This challenge has highlighted the need to be agile, anticipating and adapting to great changes even while the exact shape
of the future cannot be predicted.
timber treatment industry has been fortunate. In South Africa, the
sector had to cease operations for only a month as we were deemed an
essential service. The volumes of timber preservative and treated timber
have rebounded dramatically and for our sector, unlike many others, the
future is looking good.
pandemic is accelerating pre-existing trends, including that of
robotics. The manufacturing industry should now be looking at how it can
use robotics and automate processes that currently need physical
intervention. A truly augmented workforce may not be achievable within
the next few years but, in time, is likely to become part of the
pandemic has highlighted the value of infrastructure such as
electricity and fibre connections.
This infrastructure is likely to be
fast-tracked in African countries"
Dolphin Bay had the
foresight of moving to cloud-based computing a few years ago, so most
staff could easily work from home during lockdown. Having overseen
production at our Sabie factory from a distance for some time, we have
experience in managing processes remotely.
We also implemented shifts at the factories when
the lockdown lifted and are now operating seven days per week to
of the big changes we experienced was ‘face-to-face' communication with
our suppliers using Zoom and Microsoft Teams - after working with them
largely by email for many years. This improved our relationships and was
helpful at a time when we were having to make allowances for the
Covid-19 regulations in the countries where most of our suppliers are
For the first time we had common ground for conversation throughout the world.
effect of Covid-19 has shown governments the value of infrastructure
such as electricity and fibre connections - especially in
most of the African markets Dolphin Bay serves. This infrastructure is
likely to be fast-tracked in the future, meaning that in the long term,
the pandemic could bring a huge boost for infrastructure in Africa.
the past, a stable internet connection at work was essential but less
so at home. Now suddenly, many governments are seeing the value of the
As far as
production goes, Dolphin Bay has managed to do remarkably well given the
circumstances, and even had a few months of record volumes.
I found my own productivity much higher working from home as there were
far fewer distractions, so it has its advantages!
shipping became an even bigger challenge than
usual. Some of our orders are placed four to five months ahead of time,
so we had containers stuck in harbours and on ships, which could not be
"The pandemic is accelerating pre-existing trends, including that of robotics."
Ships could not dock
because there was no staff to offload and transport the cargo. Vessel
schedules went haywire, with diverted vessels from the East and Europe
adding to the congestion - which was especially bad in Cape Town, where
ships waited to dock for up to four weeks. This affected the other South
African harbours in turn. Shipping lines even cancelled some routings
and it was touch and go for all imports due to the pressure.
for the most part our clients received their CCA as they needed it. The
only challenge was when a client had a spike in usage, and this too we
were able to manage.
We have learnt a lot, have new insights into what the world will be like in future, and we're happy that 2020 is done!
We look forward continuing to implement our new systems next year - hopefully with some normality returning.
Source: Dolphin Bay Chemicals