Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Post COVID-19 Changes Sure to Happen at Modular Factories

First, let me say I don’t own a crystal ball nor have I visited a fortune teller to say for sure these things will happen after the COVID-19 crisis ends. By ‘ends’ I mean the never ending crisis that many in power have wanted our country to have for several years.

But there are some things that will be inevitable starting with the health side of your factory. Unless the Federal government requires it, many states will have your workers check their temperature before they leave home and once again when they arrive at your factory for work.

There will probably be mandated COVID-19 testing for all employees as often as once a month. More often for sales reps visiting their builders and service techs visiting the customer’s home.

Social distancing will probably mean less employees per station in your factory which could slow down production. If the state doesn’t require it, look for your employees to demand it as social distancing is something that will never go away.

“Hand washing stations” will be required to be installed and new signage will be placed throughout your factory mandating everyone to wash their hands several times a day.

Finished modules will not only be cleaned as they normally have been but your builder’s customer may require you to completely disinfect their modules before shipment. A new form will be required that clearly shows the customer that their new home was disinfected before it left the factory.

Many employees that were required to work in an office in your factory have become quite adept to working from home, many may actually be better doing so. Look for this trend to continue, fueled by cost savings at the factory and that many employees liked working from home.

Look for some factories to convert their skilled engineering and design people to independent contractors at the employee's request. That one sort of sneaked up on me when I heard it from a CAD worker.

Service techs visiting customer’s homes may be required to visibly wash their hands in front the customer as well as wearing face masks.

Sales reps will have to learn new skills about marketing, selling and distance relationships along with their builders who then will use those skills to meet and work with their customers. Lots of learning going on here.

I also heard automation is going to be the real answer to improving modular housing. It might be if what you build are cookie cutter modules by the hundreds but not many builders want 200 identical modules. One automation enthusiast told me robots could work 24 hours a day producing wall panels and trusses and they don’t get sick.

That’s great but if the rest of the entire module’s construction lifespan requires humans to assemble, wire, plumb and finish it, what good were those robots and will you ever see any return on your investment? That’s a tough one to answer.

One more thing that will be required is to hire at least one person taking all those temperatures, monitoring the hand wash stations and writing reports that will be sent to the state’s health agency where the reports will get absolutely no review. That is one prediction you can take to the bank.

Welcome to the new Post COVID-19 World Order!

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and Modular Construction Industry Observer and Information Gatherer



Anonymous said...

Hi Gary. Love your articles as you are clearly a man in the "modular know." With that said, spare us the unnecessary political commentary. Not everyone shares or appreciates your reductionist insights. Some of us get our facts and opinions from sources aside from FOX News and/or conservative talk radio. Other than that, keep up the good work.

Coach said...

Sorry Anonymous, didn't mean to offend anyone. I actually listen to our President talking every day. I rarely watch FOX or the MSM. I do however get my local weather from FOX5 in DC on my phone.