It has been over 1.5 years since the first outbreak of Covid. I am writing from the perspectives of a manufacturer based in Malaysia.
We were fortunate we had established our foothold in household and sanitizer at the beginning of 2019. Fast forward to July 2021 the economic situation is very different than that of 2020. Domestic sales has halved and export sales has dipped (information taken from other factories).
In order to move forward into Q3 and Q4 of 2021 we have to address the following considerations:
- Working from home
- Employee safety and morale
- Customer expectations
The above appear short but are challenging and wide in scope. In order to achieve the above, we have been embarking on the digitization of our factory and sales strategies.
I certainly have not been paid for this information I would like to share my experience and journey in hopes it helps others who are looking for solutions.
Table of Contents
Part A: Digitisation
With the digitisation of business, we usually think of marketing and sales but we overlook manufacturing & staff operations. Like most businesses, we all started out bootstrapped looking for the cheapest solutions to get to a result in this case digitisation.
I strongly recommend buying enterprise networking equipment that ensures stability and range. The reasons are clear as we highly rely on facebook, instagram, tiktok, linkedin, email, cloud-based systems and the internet of things this is the fundamental backbone of successful digitisation. You would be surprised at the price of networking equipment now as to the early 2000s. To see decent results budget RM3000 – 4000.
IT savviness low to moderate.
In the early years of FBIO we are based in Semenyih, we only had ADSL at 1mbps which is utterly useless for marketing online. Let alone a workforce of 35 – 40. By using Ubiquiti we were able to monitor, and arrange precious bandwidth for important operations without stability issues. (During public holidays our phone lines and ADSL would be interrupted because people would steal the copper wires)
After discussions with IT vendors, we were referred to Ubiquiti networking equipment. After 3 years we have increased the number of devices and this is without regret. The equipment is affordable and has provided rock-solid stability.
The setup is more difficult than the standard crappy equipment our ISP provided, this is overcome by buying Ubiquity Cloud Key which has a nice clean interface.
What we purchased:
Networks Unified Controller – Cloud Key UBNT – RM389
Manages the network from an interface
Ubiquiti Networks Security Gateway – RM539
Protection and Monitoring of network up to user usage of facebook, youtube and such.
Ubiquiti 24-Port Gigabit Switch – RM1129
Our previous switch needed a replacement (after 6 years). We had an ethernet setup for critical members of the office.
If you have fewer users you can opt for Ubiquiti Networks Unified US Switch 8 – RM519. You could use other cheaper switches but they would not be-able to be reflected in the Controller Interface.
Access Points Covering Factory:
All are powered over ethernet so you do not have to pull alongside the networking cable power.
Ubiquiti Access Point Networks Ceiling Wall Mount Dual Band AP UAP AC PRO – RM679
The main access point for the office the rest cover the factory.
UAP-AC-Lite Ubiquiti Networks Access Point UAP AC LITE – RM 369
Access point for production office
Ubiquiti Networks Long Range Access Point – RM469
Ubiquiti Access Point Networks UAP AC Mesh Outdoor WiFi – RM439
Total Spent: RM 4013 excludes wiring that needed to be pulled. The setup covers most of our 20,000+ sq feet factory with extensive concrete walls.
I would suggest not to buy the UAP-AC-Lite Ubiquiti Networks Access Point UAP AC LITE it under-performs compared to the other access points and the saving of RM100 is not worth it. If you want to get more coverage buy more Ubiquiti Networks Long Range Access Point (this device is VERY IMPRESSIVE it penetrates concrete) or Ubiquiti Access Point Networks UAP AC Mesh Outdoor WiFi.
All the Access points can be set to be in a MESH network which improves coverage without the need of switching WiFi network as you move around the premise.
What We Can Do Now?
Temperature & Humidity Sensors
Due to the improved networking accessibility throughout the factory, we purchased Humidity and Temperature sensors that connect via WiFi this enables QA and QC to remotely check the air variables live anywhere they are. (Management as well if you are curious)
Attendance + Temperature Reading for Staff & Visitors
Recently we installed facial recognition tied with temperature readings to ensure this basic action which has become the norm for any business is carried out without errors and contact-free. We will eventually discontinue the use of access cards in our facility.
HR and Management are able to identify who has recorded a high temperature and are able to deny entry of staff into the premises if temperature is high. This is not a fail-safe way of eliminating Covid but is sure a great way to identify staff who are not feeling well and should be sent to the panel clinic. If positive from internal RTK test kits send for confirmation testing more covered in Part B
It is definitely a system that will benefit everyone beyond Covid as usually when we are sick and our body is fighting nasty germs we a common indicator is fever.
Including all delivery drivers and couriers, as they are required to scan their face and temperature in order to open the door. This is identified as guest access.
We will cover mitigation measures onsite such as sanitisation schedules and hygiene methodologies which are proven to reduce the spread of Covid at the workplace beyond masks and 1M distances.