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The easing of the national lockdown to Level 3 has allowed leading supplier Bearings International (BI) to reopen its countrywide branch network under strict coronavirus regulations. In addition, a small percentage of staff have returned to work on a rotational basis, limiting the number of employees on-site so as to minimise the risk.
All companies within the Hudaco portfolio, of which BI is one, have developed stringent back-to-work safety protocols that have been implemented across BI’s branch network and maintained stringently.
These include workplace risk assessments and adaptation to ensure social distancing, remote working, awareness campaigns around associated risks, cleaning and sanitation protocols and temperature screening of employees, customers and visitors, as well as clearly-defined procedures to deal with the impact in the workplace, as the safety of its employees is BI’s highest priority.
“Although back to work, we still operate under strict regulations as per the law. We maintain strict social distancing and have supplied all staff with BI-branded face masks, which we wear all the time,” explains BI Offer Marketing Manager Victor Strobel.
During the hard lockdown, BI was identified as an emergency and breakdown service provider to companies providing essential services such as food and beverage, power generation and water and wastewater.
It identified key people in every branch around the country able to provide this service 24/7, applied for all necessary work and travel permits and provided a full contact list to these customers. In addition, BI used its communication platforms to remind its essential service customers that it remained dedicated to meeting their needs during the initial stages of the lockdown.
Strobel explains that BI’s logistics department operates on rotational shifts to ensure risk is always mitigated. “We can ensure continuity of service delivery to our branch network in the event of someone being infected.”
All branches are authorised to deliver product to customers that are operational during Level 3. The branch network can continue to serve customers from anywhere in the country should one or multiple branches be impacted.
Customers have also used the lockdown period to carry out essential maintenance on their plant. “Our main challenges have been managing our inventory due to travel constraints, congestion at harbours and long lead times from suppliers but have successfully caught up on the backlog. Other challenges that we have experienced as a company is that access to certain customers has been limited by the lockdown travel restrictions in place,” adds Strobel.
As part of its efforts to keep its customers safe during the pandemic and to promote good hygiene practices, BI has added a good-quality sanitiser and disinfectant to its current range of hand cleaners that has been extremely well-accepted and is doing very well.
“We have also seen a huge increase in the demand for our range of Grippaz hand gloves and have increased our stockholding accordingly. We have added a highly-accurate handheld thermometer to our product range,” points out Strobel.
“In light of the ongoing developments regarding the Covid-19 crisis, I would like to firstly say that our thoughts are with those affected by the virus in South Africa and around the globe. At BI, the well-being and safety of our teams, clients and communities is our top priority. As we closely monitor the evolving impact, we are implementing ongoing measures to ensure the health and safety of our staff, while also maintaining the highest level of service to our clients.
“We are keeping up to date with the guidance from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of South Africa and local authorities related to travel, quarantine, meetings and events and we will continue to adjust our guidance accordingly.
“In the meantime, we want to reassure all of our customers that we will continue to provide uninterrupted service. As we navigate through these challenging times, I am reminded of how fortunate we are to be part of this strong community that supports each other to accomplish great things. It is the power of this community that will propel us through this crisis to better times,” Strobel concludes.