How Danish manufacturer Induflex is using Covid-19 battle plans to stake out the future
Written by Elni Kullmer, Managing Director IFS Nordics.
First published at blog.ifs.com, May 28th 2020
Abrupt changes in demand
As the ramifications of the coronavirus were making themselves felt, the company saw a string of abrupt changes in market demand. Induflex CEO and owner Rico Larsen explains, “Our company is organized into two business units—one for technical plastics for industrial applications and one for visual plastics, serving retail business with in-store products such as display cases. While we initially saw only a slight drop in demand for our technical products, the demand for in-store plastics virtually disappeared from one day to the next as the government ordered almost all retail spaces be shut down.”
This initial wave of fluctuations was followed by a huge spike in demand for all types of plastic face shields and sneeze guards as those essential shops that remained open needed to ensure the health and safety of people buying groceries or pharmaceutical products.
“As society is now slowly starting to open back up, we are seeing yet another increase in demand for plastic partitions and visors,” Rico Larsen added.
Joining the battle against COVID-19
“We were already producing plastic partitions and sneeze guards prior to the coronavirus pandemic, so adding a net-new product in the form of a protective visor was the logical next step in the battle against the spread of the virus,” Larsen said.
With Northern Europe’s largest laser-cutting capacity, Induflex wasted no time in starting to produce the face shields.
“We began production on March 31 and, one day later, we were able to deliver the first batch to our partner for assembly. Four days after that, we were at full production capacity manufacturing some 20,000 shields per day. In late April, with the help of two new cutting plotters and 10 new employees to support the increased demand, we were averaging around 30,000-40,000 face shields per day. Today, we have produced more than 400,000 face shields and in excess of 6,000 customized sneeze guards of various designs,” Rico Larsen said.
The importance of solid systems support
Running IFS Applications to support its mission-critical work processes, the company has configured the solution’s interface to empower its production team with easy-to-use capabilities for raw material handling and shop-order time registration.
“We were able to register the new products in IFS Applications quickly and easily, with the correct product structures and routings, which has helped us maintain clarity in our product supply chain. The system has also helped us manage our workforce, which was significantly expanded to keep up with market demand.”
Currently evaluating IFS Applications 10, Induflex is hoping to deploy additional capabilities later this year.
“We see great potential in the IFS Aurena user experience, especially in terms of shop order management and CRM. Giving our sales staff easy access to leads and business activities we will be able to serve our customers even better.”
Key learnings for a post-coronavirus world
As outlooks are slowly starting to improve for people and businesses around the world, Induflex is already contemplating what changes will be needed to hit the ground running.
“The biggest constraints for us, and what surprised me the most, during these past weeks, was the scarcity of raw materials. Where we previously had to wait one or two weeks for raw materials delivery, we are now seeing delivery times of up to five months. Planning and maximizing existing resources, are therefore absolutely essential factors for survival and success. As is running a robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) system,” Larsen said.
Necessity being the mother of invention, the company sees a number of COVID-19-related measures making their way into the daily routine, even after the crisis is over.
“The pandemic has really stressed the importance of social distancing and hygiene, which will be a key focus for us even after the pandemic is over. We also want to continue working on effective sneeze guard solutions and other partitions, both for business and public applications, to help prevent any future viral outbreaks,” Rico Larsen concluded.