Jun 19, 2020

DHL: ensuring safety & productivity in manufacturing

Georgia Wilson
4 min
cogs wiith product, efficiency, quality, service and innovation written on them
Mike Bristow, Managing Director, Manufacturing Logistics, DHL Supply Chain, on safe and productive manufacturing as organisations restart their operatio...

As the manufacturing sector returns to work across the country, with new social distancing and hygiene measures in place, it will be vital to find the balance between productivity and safety to make the ‘restart’ as smooth as possible.

Addressing these changes head-on will be key, and while planning for an uncertain future is particularly challenging, there are actions that leaders can take now to minimise disruption and improve their supply chain resilience for the future. The initial phase of the pandemic response presented us with some incredibly important learning opportunities, and taking these on board, while treating the restart phase as an ongoing process, will help as we move forward.

Adapting supply chains in response to demand

In March DHL joined the VentilatorChallengeUK, a consortium of businesses including Rolls-Royce, Ford and Airbus to provide thousands of new medical ventilators to the NHS in the fight against COVID-19. The challenge was to stand-up a supply chain from scratch, managing over 6m parts from a new supplier base, storing, order picking and kitting, and delivering to final manufacturing locations. Over the course of a week and a half, we assembled a team of 120 people (some of which who were on furlough which added greater complexity), set up a new IT system, and created 700 racking locations - all in compliance with stringent social distancing measures.

While this was a very unique challenge, as businesses begin to restart they will find themselves needing to reconfigure their own supply chains for a completely new set of circumstances, and so there are learnings to take from this.

A crucial aspect of creating and adapting any supply chains at speed will be not waiting for perfection. As a company used to taking the time to plan, we had to adjust our normal processes to work within these new constraints. Over the coming weeks and months businesses adapting to the changing circumstances will need to put in place what they can, as quickly as they can. However it is critical that this remains a process of continual improvement and as more information becomes available, procedures should adapt and evolve in turn.

Tackling challenges and making necessary adjustments

People are your most important asset so it’s imperative that their concerns and needs are considered as part of the restart process. It’s important that people feel comfortable and reassured when coming back to work. It won’t be just about putting new measures in place, but how you communicate this to your entire workforce.

Organisations can undertake a number of actions to ensure they meet social distancing guidelines and can keep their people safe. At our own sites we are running through a 120-point plan, which identifies all the major touch points in the building and sets out a continual cleansing schedule, using our existing real estate and assets to ensure quality controls and compliance are in place.

Another adjustment that businesses will face will be to split out regular shifts, perhaps extending working hours or introducing a weekend shift with a different team. Rigorous handovers with a high level of detail will need to be introduced and there should be regular conversations around the impact these split shifts have on productivity. Make sure your employees understand why procedures have been put in place and have a clear understanding of the purpose behind your business strategy.

Using crises or experiences to inform decisions

It’s important that we take learnings from experiences such as these and align plans in a way that makes us more resilient in the future. By thinking back to what we’ve learnt, we can build our resources and capabilities which allow for more preparedness should the improbable happen.

Continuous learning, communication and a commitment to self and business improvement has never been more important. The VentilatorChallenge project was successful thanks to the constant feedback loop and regular communication with both the customer and partners. This type of industry collaboration - and the drive to succeed - knocked down the usual barriers and silos and saw everyone aligned to one single common purpose. As we look to the future, this has proven the importance of working together and regularly connecting with stakeholders to consistently improve, rather than waiting for monthly or quarterly reviews.

Organisations will also benefit from taking learnings from other sectors or countries. In our case we used the experiences of our colleagues in APAC who had already gone through the process of structuring operations to comply with new safety measures. Different industries are at different stages of ramp-up, so there are lessons that can be sought out from others.

Most importantly, listen to your people on the ground. Capture their insights and learnings, and implement these immediately. One of our strengths is our culture - we encourage our employees to speak up and say what they think. Use your employees’ experiences to shape what you do, as knowing how to ‘apply the learnings as you go’ is the real opportunity for the future.

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.
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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

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