At the end of last year, because we had such an excellent year in 2019, the board members thought we should give some thought to investigating the possibilities for us to streamline the production processes and anything else that we can, to help us cope with a perceived continuing of our trading success.
As part of the process it was decided to use a scheduled SWOT analysis exercise to help achieve our objective. The SWOT exercise, which all of the Solar Solve team took part in, was held in January. One of the conditions of Solar Solve’s ISO 9001:2015 Quality Assurance Accreditation is that we hold a SWOT analysis exercise every couple of years.
During the event future growth was highlighted as an OPPORTUNITY. It is something we have to go for because we do not want to stagnate. There are still so many opportunities for our company to raise its profile further. Solar Solve can grow way beyond its current enviable position as the global marine industry’s Brand Leader, with an exceptionally high business trading reputation over more than 30 years. Going for growth was adopted and discussed in more detail with special emphasis being put on ‘thinking outside of the box’.
By the end of February, a document had been produced for action entitled LIST OF 2020 PLANS AND PROJECTS TO PRIORITISE. We held a further meeting to do just that but before the results could be formally documented the Corona virus came on the scene and we had more important issues to resolve.
Co-incidentally there were about 20 projects to tackle during 2020 and in reality some of the smaller important ones were already underway or had been completed.
2020 started even better than 2019 and during our 3-weeks lock-down we didn’t know how the future was going to go and if we would get the opportunity to grow our business any time soon. However, I realised that we still needed to streamline production because with some factory employees classed as ‘vulnerable’ we expected to be down on production employees by 33% when we did re-open. It meant that when we got back to full production, which we are currently quite close to by now, we have to process the orders with fewer people. So the project had to be actioned anyway but for a different reason.
We seem to be getting it right by making use of the latest technology. Hand tools that are still elbow-powered or have mains cables are being replaced with battery powered tools, along with other ideas like using very sensitive scales to count items and measure cord and using extra space in the factory yard for new outbuildings so we can make the production area more effective. In the short term it will help with social distancing until a vaccine is found and we are all vaccinated, which could still be a year or more away. Thereafter, it will enable even faster production processes to be adopted.
For the last 2 months I have been concentrating on buying in all sorts of kit for the R&D that we are doing and will be doing over this year and I have had no problems buying all of it on the Internet. Mainly Amazon and E-Bay but sometimes manufacturers direct. A lot of it is coming from China with minimal waiting time and I have to specially commend all of the delivery companies that are really, really fantastic.
JHL MBE SSL Co. Chairman