News & Analysis

Covid-19 pandemic how coping in a crisis means carry on, learn and be safe

22nd April 2020
Caroline Hayes


Companies are showing their agility in the Covid-19 corona virus outbreak. Caroline Hayes finds out how some are balancing safety and productivity while using opportunities presented in this worldwide crisis.

A common response to this unprecedentd Covid-19 pandemic is that all companies are having to adapt their working practices, with admin and office based staff working from home where possible and keeping their distance in facilities.

Marco van der Linden is country manager of PULS UK. “All factory staff are adhering to the 6ft/2m distance rule. We have body temperature scanners in place at all entrances of our buildings where staff are still working for early detection,” he said.

PULS’ factories in Suzhou, China and Chomutov, Czech Republic are currently running at 85% production. “We are doing everything to ensure that both will be running at full capacity again in the next few weeks,” he confirmed.

Marco van der Linden says communications across the company keep staff informed

The company remains in close contact with all warehouse and logistics partners and the CEO has introduced live streaming sessions to address all employees worldwide and update them on current and future plans.

van der Linden expects to see further measures put in place by the government to stop people leaving their homes. This will mean companies will operate at minimum capacity or close down completely but that “financially healthy businesses should be able to ride this out until the tide turns,” he added.

The company has increased both the stock of raw components and the global stock of finished products.

Use new tools

Working from home can be a boon to businesses. “Engineers are resourceful, inquisitive and inventive people,” said Doug Bailey, vice president of marketing at Power Integrations. “If they are not able to go into work, some of them will use the time to learn a new skill. Using our online power supply design tool, PI Expert Online, they can learn a new skill – power supply design – so that next time they need an offline converter they will have the expertise to make their own,” he explained.

Doug Bailey encourages engineers to use online tools to learn and design from home

He anticipates that any production disruptions will be “manageable and short term as the rolling quarantine cycles through, country by country”.

“We manufacture the bulk of our wafers in Japan where foundries are operating normally. Perhaps this is because with all the filtering that is necessary, one of the safest places to work in is a fab!”

Bailey is confident that end-user demand will also continue. “Obviously, many people are going to suffer real hardship. Others may get through this shut-down period relatively unscathed, and they may have decided to upgrade their work-from-home IT infrastructure, and/or invest in personal entertainment equipment, such as games consoles,” he said, all of which are end applications for the company’s flyback switcher ICs which are used in power adapters and chargers.

Other markets served by the company, such as automotive, smart lighting and appliances, may see a delayed up-tick once the economies around the world resume pre-pandemic spending patterns, and Power Integrations will be ready. “We are taking this time to get ahead on technical documentation, we are investing in training and we are looking at new ways to reach our customers.” The company produced a virtual show microsite for the cancelled APEC Power show and expects to do more webinars.

Balancing act

Germany has the lowest Covid-19 death rate. “We have to slow down the spread of Covid-19 and to stay operational at the same time,” said Diana Kaaserer, media relations at Infineon Technologies. “The top priority . . . is currently to protect the health and safety of our employees and business partners while contributing as best as we can to a flattening of the curve,” she said.

All of the company’s major manufacturing sites worldwide are operational. “At the moment, sufficient procurement of raw materials is in place. Logistic chains, including alternative freight routes, have been set up for continuous deliveries to customers,” Kaaserer said, although she conceded that the worldwide pandemic is “causing severe disruptions to global supply chains, end markets and economies”.

Looking ahead, Kaaserer is positive: “In the long run, structural growth drivers such as electro-mobility, IoT or renewable energy remain intact, or might even be accelerated as a consequence of [overcoming the] coronavirus crisis,” she said.

[Main image credit: Image S K from Pixabay]


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