Sulzer Pump Solutions Ireland Ltd in Wexford not only continued operating as an essential service during the Covid-19 lockdown, thanks to the efforts of its 272 employees, but also distributed hundreds of protective face masks to colleagues in China and frontline workers in Ireland.
Early in January as employees at another Sulzer factory, located in Kunshan China, were struggling to source face masks to protect themselves, the procurement team at Sulzer Wexford acted quickly to purchase 800 masks and send them to their Chinese colleagues, which was critical in keeping them safe.
Then, after consulting with frontline workers locally and ascertaining that they urgently needed PPE face shields, the company's product development team used their 3D printed technology to print the masks and distributed over 1,200 of them to local hospitals, general practitioners, nursing homes and home care workers.
Sulzer employees have also been fundraising internally for local health care centres to help them purchase PPE and other essential items during the pandemic.
The most recent employee collection raised €2,000 which was matched by another €2,000 from the company, with donations going to Selskar House, Wexford Hospice Homecare, St Bridget's Day Care Centre, Kerlogue Nursing Home and Masks for Ireland.
'We could not be prouder to help and support those on the frontline who have been working tirelessly to protect the health and safety of everyone', said Managing Director Brendan Sinnott.
'It has certainly not been easy for everyone during this time. It has taken relentless support and planning to keep us safe and fully operational. The business is ongoing, we see an impact on orders but expect it to recover shortly as the countries open up again.
'We faced many challenges with supply chain but that is in recovery now. We also faced some challenges by not being able to get key contractors on site to resolve a number of issues', he said.
The MD said strong emphasis on safety first helped the company manage its way through the pandemic and as a result, Sulzer Wexford has had no Covid cases to date and there was only one day where it needed to shut down due to a materials supply issue.
The company's Covid-19 comprehensive safety measures included temperature checks, text messaging services, adequate PPE including hand sanitiser, masks and gloves, daily HR updates to keep employees informed, breaks and shifts scattered to reduce numbers attending cantees, internal movement reduced considerably, employees keeping to their own workspaces, most meetings done through Skype, 80 employees working remotely and no contractors allowed on site except for essential services.
'Thanks to all our employees' engagement, ongoing flexibility and relentless efforts to mitigate challenges we have minimised impact on our site and overall business', said Brendan.
'Not only have the employees in Sulzer managed to stay operating safely in this current time but they have also reached out to help others in the community by offering support and advice', he said.
Sulzer develops and manufactures products and solutions that support water recycling in a sustainable and energy efficient way. It is a global leader in the development and supply of pumping solutions and related equipment to its key markets in oil and gas, power and water.
Sulzer provides utility companies in Ireland and around the world with products that ensure wastewater and water networks stay fully operational, thereby keeping homes, businesses and communities free from contaminated wastewater and sewerage and having a positive impact on the environment.
'Without these basic services, many communities would face difficult situations', said Mr Sinnott.
'Water demand has dramatically increased as millions of people wash their hands more frequently and spend more time at home, and in light of the low rainfall so far this year, it's even more challenging.'
Of the company's experience during the pandemic, the MD said: Early intervention appears to have been effective here at Sulzer. We have learned a lot from this and have shared our experiences with other businesses in the community.
The IDA hosted a Town Hall meeting for business leaders in the south east and the Sulzer Wexford boss shared the company's experiences of safeguarding employees.
'Furthermore, we are open to share ideas with others as needed', said Mr Sinnott, who thanked all the suppliers who worked with them during the crisis.
Sulzer is continuing to add new guidelines on site based on the latest advice from the HSE to aid in the protection of personnel against the virus.
'Sulzer will continue to protect our employees and this community to the best of our ability. To protect each other we must stay apart', he said.