Adapting to the ‘New Normal’ in Australian Industry

Whilst the lockdown in Victoria and difficult work conditions are adversely affecting industry around the country, some businesses have done everything in their power to maintain operations at the greatest possible level.

As much as these restrictions have adversely affected industries due to reduced active employee levels, many machinery based and more automated production plants have managed sufficient output to maintain a viable business. In fact some have been fortunate to align and adapt their manufacturing to increased demands for certain products during this unusual period in local and world history. Given the importance of any manufacturing to our devastated economy, such industry must remain active and productive.

In an attempt to take a look at how certain industries are coping with this situation, I have investigated the changed operational strategies adopted by one of the country’s leading compressed air equipment suppliers. This sample is particularly pertinent because much of Australia’s and in fact the world’s manufacturing industry depends on compressed air to power its processes.

Kaishan Australia consists of two integral divisions being sales of high-end, industrial air compressors plus ancillary equipment and a service division that maintains compressed air systems throughout the country.  The mobile technicians not only service and maintain the company’s own brand but have regular maintenance agreements to service, repair and maintain many other makes of compressed air systems throughout a broad variety of Australian industry including manufacturing, food processing, mining and scientific applications.

While the administration and sales side of the business is working as best as it can under current enforced staffing limitations and a general business downturn, the service side is facing a whole different set of challenges entailing the current difficulties of site visitation and operational restrictions. The Kaishan service technicians are required to provide regular maintenance checks and procedures at client premises to ensure that compressed air systems which are vital to keeping production lines running  are operating at peak efficiency. The service team also provides a twenty four hour, seven days a week emergency breakdown service, vital to any company relying on its compressed air system to function effectively. A drop off of such regular maintenance and services could place businesses in jeopardy of total, long term shutdown, something that the industry and the economy can ill afford at this or any other time.

Kaishan Australia Service Manager, Shane O’Brien stated:

“The challenges of providing efficient and effective support to our customers have been a daily dilemma. Whilst traffic delays are minimal moving through check points and ensuring the service vans are cleaned and sanitised after each call take a toll on our commitment to meet a two hour attendance promise. Our Covid safe plan required us to access all areas of our business so as to keep our employees safe and meet the restricted operational plans of our customers.

The decision to increase stock holdings from three to six months at the start of the pandemic has allowed us to meet our customers needs over the last 5 months, recently allowing a full refurbishment of a large compressor for an approved business to be completed with minimal impact on the customers operation.”

CEO of Kaishan Australia, Mark Ferguson puts his perspective on the total company approach.

“It is vital during these difficult times that we support our customers to ensure that they have the compressed air needed to maintain production.

We are limited by the restrictions applied by Government, by our customers own policies around site access and through our own requirements which have been implemented to keep our team safe.

Maintaining our high servicing standards during these difficult times requires a significant and coordinated team effort. From customer contact, scheduling, spare parts management, technical support through to the carrying out of work needs to be undertaken whilst maintaining social distancing yet at the same time providing close personal contact and effective communication throughout the process. All this whilst keeping the team safe, motivated and focussed during these difficult times.

Here at Kaishan Australia, we have definitely taken the approach with our people that ‘We are all in this together’.  I congratulate all our team members on their dedication under such trying circumstances to ensure the company and our customers come through this in the best possible shape.

At the end of the day, we want our customers to know we are looking after their best interests. But more importantly, we want the reliability of their compressed air to be the least of their worries while they deal with other challenges caused during this Covid 19 recovery period.”

No doubt, many Australian supply and servicing companies are facing similar challenges, but I am convinced with a determined  attitude to ‘not drop the ball’, co-operative arrangements can and have been made with customers to ensure that industries remain viable and optimistic for rapid recovery and a prosperous future throughout our resilient country.