Looking ahead to 2021: part 2

7 April, 2021

By now, hearing that 2020 has been a challenging year will not come a surprise anymore. Nevertheless, it is a statement that is very true indeed, also for us. That’s why we would like to take the opportunity to look back on 2020 while also providing our forecast for 2021 for some of our plants around the world. Just like two weeks ago, we asked some of our plant managers for their views on 2020 and 2021. In this second part, we take a look at Belgium, the US and India.

 

Exciting times in Belgium

 

Our VCST plant in Sint-Truiden has experienced a siginificant year. Naturally, our Belgian colleagues have had to deal with the covid-19 pandemic, temporarily closing the plant in the spring. A pandemic, however, has not prevented VCST Belgium from exploring new opportunities for the plant. Indeed, because changes need to be made to the shopfloor infrastructure and because we can work more compact than in the past, we started to look for a location to build a new plant. Aside from that, 2020 saw a further development of our Smart Factory programme that will be implemented even further in 2021. Finally, we have also been focussing more on the concept of human-centred organisation. After all, without the commitment and enthusiasm of our colleagues, we would be nothing. Indeed, preparing and motivating them for the changes ahead will be important.

 

For 2021, then, preparing our move to a new site will be key. Stocks have to be created and the moving of our actual machines will also take some careful planning. “Our people are looking positively towards the move”, says plant manager Didier Westphalen. Aside from that, we are also optimistic about the new year as we are currently producing more gears than we had initially planned. Furthermore, we will be further implementing Industry 4.0 to ensure that we are fully ready to meet the future head on.

Activity is growing in the USA

 

As far as 2020 is concerned, our colleagues in Zanesville mainly noticed difficulty on the operational side of things. Restrictions for travel as well as restrictions for visitors of the plant rather complicated matters. Despite that, however, there was no decrease in work for our American colleagues, on the contrary. The other way in which IGW USA felt the consequences of the global crisis was through the supply chain, which was hampered by less activity worldwide. As restrictions are slowly being lifted, however, we are seeing improvement in that department.

 

For 2021, there will be many changes, mostly aimed at being able to handle more activity and work more efficiently. A new machine has been added to the quality department, making it possible to measure more parts with better accuracy. Next, our Ohio colleagues have increased the capacity of the assembly area and will be taking delivery of a new crane system. Also, the offices for CNC-programming and final inline inspections have been optimised to ensure maximum efficiency in handling an increase in projects. Finally, two new automatic washing machines will also help us to work more time-efficient. All these changes have been made to support the increase in projects in our Zanesville plant. Whereas in the past, one project was handled at the time, our American colleagues will be taking on five projects this year. For that, they will also need to increase the workforce and that is no easy feat as these are still trying times in the employment market.

Positivity in India

 

For our Indian colleagues of IGW Involute in Pune, 2020 also presented significant challenges. A promising start to the year was curtailed by the pandemic reaching India and causing our plant to shut down from the middle of March until the beginning of May. The period from May to July was challenging as our Indian colleagues had some catching up to do. In the final quarter of the year, however, there was an increase in volumes that lead to a record-breaking streak. Indeed, October 2020 saw our colleagues in Pune record their highest ever sales figures. Since that moment up to now (March 2021), IGW Involute have broken that record every single month, reaching ever higher sales figures.

 

2021, then, according to plant manager Vikas Dudeja is looking very promising. He says: “2020 was very challenging, but 2021 is shaping up to be a good year for us as we have some new business coming while also having learned valuable lessons.” Indeed, covid measures showed us how we can work even more efficiently while also keeping our people safe. With some new projects and the confidence of our customers, we can do well in 2021.

 

In conclusion, 2020 has caused more or less the same challenges for our different plants last year, but it has also created opportunities for 2021. As such, we can’t wait to get into gear and make 2021 a year to remember. Onwards and upwards!