There is still a lot of uncertainty out there but one thing is certain, business will pick up again and NDT will always be needed. But things may look a bit different for your company when the ramp up occurs. Here’s 5 ways to prepare your company during this time so that you can be on the leading edge of the wave when it comes.
If you have not figured out a more efficient way of sourcing workers, you will be far behind when the work picks up, spending months to fill your roster. The hiring process can be long, expensive, and tedious. During this time, you can find ways to shortcut this process. Some ways are more effective than others. You could try to predict the work that might be coming down the pike and then put together a list of candidates that you will want to contact as soon as things ramp up. However, this process involves a lot of guesswork and prediction. Predict incorrectly and you’re way behind and have to resort to using job boards to fill tons of positions. There are new, more efficient solutions out there—like Surehand, a self-service hiring platform that dramatically reduces the time and costs associated with candidate sourcing and lets your HR folks focus on higher value activities like workforce planning and nurturing best-fit talent for current and future hire. Your HR folks can easily find the exact matches for projects you need to staff in a matter of minutes instead of days or weeks, positioning you in front of your competitors.
So odds are your capital budget has been reduced as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. A new machine that can automate your NDT processes better may not be a viable option. However, there are companies that can retrofit your older scanners with new controller, acquisition, and analysis software. These upgrades can increase your productivity tremendously, enabling more automated processes to accommodate reduced staffing and/or social distancing at work places. Many manufacturers are seeing a slow down at present with several industries at a near halt so now is the perfect time to get these retrofits completed and be well poised for the ramp up when it begins. Plus your company will be more efficient than it was before. One company that has been helping people achieve this new level of efficiency with the equipment they already own is UTEX Scientific Instruments which produces both the hardware and the software to effectively retrofit scanner systems so that they are very similar to a new system at a fraction of the cost of a new one.
There have been a lot of layoffs and furloughs in the last 3-4 months. It has been a tough time. For the personnel you have decided to keep on staff during this time, there are times when they are not busy. You don’t want to let them go. Now is a good time to upskill your personnel. Training them in a new method, an augmentative method, or simply training them to advance their career can send an important message to them about your willingness to invest in them and ultimately help your company increase its offerings. Whether it is through acquiring skills in UAS or robotics control, automated systems control, rope access, or other skills, getting your folks trained during a downturn is a perfect way to invest in your company’s future, while not tying up personnel that could otherwise be on the job site. There are many companies that are providing online training these days which is of course perfect for the times we are in. For example, NDT Classroom just released a course solely on Radiographic Image Interpretation. This type of class is something that allows service providers and customers alike the peace of mind, knowing that there will be a lot less false positives or missed calls from the RT teams, which can be costly at best and dangerous at worst.
4. PROCESSES AUDITS
Process audits are often one of those things that gets pushed on the calendar until you have “free” time. Well, here it is. This is a great time to take a look at all of your processes and see where efficiencies can be brought in. Sometimes we spend so many years doing things the same way, a drastic change to the economy is just what we need to look at things with fresh eyes and determine ways we can improve. One such process you may want to look at is your emergency preparedness and business continuity planning. Nothing like a pandemic to make you notice the holes in your systems and processes in this regard. Do yourself a favor and fix these now while you have a bit of time. This is not the first emergency we’ve ever had and it certainly will not be the last. Preparation is key.
5. DEMOS AND DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT
This one should really be called ADAPT. Hopefully, if you are a manufacturer or a distributor, you’ve figured this one out. In person meetings are more and more difficult right now. You must find ways to engage with your customers through other means, namely digital means. Demonstration videos, both live and prerecorded, can give customers as close to a “hands-on” feel as they can get without being there in person. A better idea even is to send your equipment to a third party expert and have them try out the equipment, talk about its attributes and have them show their colleagues how to use it. One person who does this very well is Paul Holloway. He’s established a following on youtube that shows colleagues different equipment and helpful hints about how to get the most out of the equipment. One thing is for certain, adaption is key right now to continue to sell equipment in the market.
This pandemic has spurred the NDT world to embrace innovation. Innovative ways to stretch your budgets or invest in your company in small ways during the downturn so that you are ready to ramp up quickly, will be the difference between surviving and thriving, post-COVID. Adaption has always been key in NDT where technologies and methods are always improving. Though this time has pushed all of us out of our comfort zone, this is where technological and processes innovations occur and ultimately make our businesses more efficient and more prosperous in the long run.
If you have questions on how best to prepare yourself for the ramp up or other ways in which you can engage with customers, give us a shout, we are always ready to help.