The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world, and many companies have had to change their operations to ensure that processes run as smoothly as possible, while keeping their staff safe. This blog discusses how we have adapted at Woodley, continuing our agile approach and introducing positive changes to ensure that we can react quickly to the challenges that COVID-19 presents to us, both now and in the future.
SUPPORTING ACCESS TO EQUIPMENT
The nature of our business means that we have to act on things quickly, and COVID-19 is an unforeseen circumstance that we’ve just had to adapt to. Everyone at Woodley has worked brilliantly during this whole pandemic; each division has reacted quickly to each new piece of information we’ve gained, and it’s this that has allowed us to carry on with some normality. This flexibility has meant that we could overcome a lot of the challenges without affecting our customers, and we are pleased to have been able to continue to deliver equipment and meet customer demand throughout. One of our biggest challenges has been managing supply of stock, particularly when our suppliers were waiting for parts from different countries. For example, we might have a customer in France waiting for parts from China, with no clear delivery date in sight. This has required a lot of juggling, working out what equipment we’ve had returning from other projects, and making sure that it was disinfected and turned around as quickly as possible, so that we could forward it on for use in other studies.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
One piece of equipment that posed a real challenge at the beginning of the pandemic was the supply of infusion pumps and monitors, as a lot of these were needed by COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and so were simply not available. Our purchasing managers have worked extremely hard; they are in constant contact with the suppliers, updating us in relation to how things are going and getting production timelines, so that we know exactly when stock is coming in and if there were any issues. As we operate globally, we also have to monitor guidelines and the changing situation in different countries. For example, pre-COVID-19, all carriers would use both passenger and cargo planes to transport freight to Australia, but now they're only running cargo planes. This means that transit times for a lot our equipment have increased, and so we’ve had to liaise more closely with the relevant parties to keep our eye on stock levels and equipment, alerting our customers of potential problems at the earliest opportunity.
ADAPTING TO CUSTOMER NEEDS
We’ve also had success in maintaining flexibility and adapting to our customers’ changing needs. The way many trials are performed has had to change, as there are ever-fluctuating restrictions on nurses and patients attending trial sites for testing. This has meant that we’re now delivering directly to the nurses in patients’ homes in some cases, instead of us delivering equipment to the customer for use or distribution. This direct contact with nurses has thrown up additional challenges, as we need to ensure that they all receive consistent training on the equipment we’re supplying, to ensure this change does not affect the results of studies. This, of course, has brought about positive changes to the way that we operate, and is a process that we now have in place for the future.
We’ve also adapted our protocols for delivering equipment to hospital wards, as a lot of hospitals – especially in Italy and Spain – have set up of makeshift goods-in bays. We are more than happy to provide extended instructions for the couriers to cater for this, explicitly stating that they cannot enter the building, and supplying an exact drop off location. This has allowed our deliveries to continue, while adhering to hospitals’ guidelines and keeping everyone safe, with project managers following up to ensure that the customer has received the equipment and is happy.
A NEW NORMAL?
We have adjusted to a lot of challenges at Woodley, and adopted many positive changes that have enabled us to discover a new normal for the future. We are proud of all of our staff who have worked incredibly hard over this difficult period, and commend the team for working together, continuing to provide such a strong service to our customers.
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