Automotive companies have come to the realisation that this existing and supportive communication technology has not been used to its full potential because people are used to doing things in person. The Covid-19 crisis has actually improved international team work and companies are re-evaluating the need for travel
One of the few positive side effects of the Covid-19 crisis is that communication and team work have improved, while companies are also re-evaluating the need for travel. Christoph Seitz, CEO of CFR Rinkens, and Nick Thompson, operations manager finished vehicle operations at FCA, discussed how the pandemic crisis has been a wake-up call for businesses to innovate and become more flexible at this week’s Automotive Logistics and Supply Chain Live conference.
Thompson said the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent regulatory changes at a local government level had tested FCA’s agility and flexibility.
“We needed to work with our partners to respond appropriately and get the right processes in place to make it safe to return to work and get things back to normal,” he explalined.
Physical distancing changed communication and companies are looking at how to use technology to work with overseas locations, or cut down on travel, even when it returns to some normality.
Seitz gave the example of a container unload in India which CFR’s team had successfully supervised virtually and said the experience had led the company to consider what else was possible.
“We’re looking at a virtual reality training programme where we can train people on the other side of the world how to load or unload a container and handle our type of racking equipment without us having to be there,” he said. “There are some really interesting dynamics coming out of this.”
Automotive companies have come to the realisation that this existing and supportive technology has not been used to its full potential because people are used to doing things in person. As well as reducing the need for travel, Thompson highlighted that not being able to have meetings in persons has actually encouraged people to have better conversations.
“The way communication has changed over this process is really valuable,” he said. “[In the past], we would have the collaboration, but [now] the frequency and the depth has changed. We’re now having more regular conversations that are more focused in nature. It makes things more effective, and that’s been driven by the need to be flexible and agile. We’re talking more often and that’s helpful across the board.”
Seitz concluded: “Overall, I’ve seen a tremendous effort – whether it’s by managers or people in the warehouse floor – and a great move towards collaboration and flexibility, a lot of people working from home and doing a great job. I think it’s been a wake-up call for people to innovate themselves and the business, collaborating, group dynamics in a tough environment. That’s been very encouraging, and I think a lot of good will come out of that for businesses in general.”