Design, engineering and manufacturing supported by all other functions are up to speed at leading transfer point specialist Weba Chute Systems, thanks to its quick response to Covid-19 restrictions.

“With bespoke chute design being such a vital aspect of our value offering to customers, we have invested heavily over the years in sophisticated software and networks,” says Mark Baller, managing director of Weba Chute Systems. “Covid-19 has been the catalyst for us to take that a step further with advanced remote working capability.”

This has allowed the company’s design team to retain its momentum while working safely from home. With added bandwidth to the office servers, the productivity of the office was able to remain high, says Baller. The technology interventions also served staff in other administrative roles, allowing much greater use of digital platforms to maintain the workflow.

Systems manager and Covid-19 officer, Izak Potgieter says Weba Chute Systems began its preparations early – well before the Level 5 lockdown was announced. This included sourcing personal protective equipment as early as February, and securing adequate supplies of masks and sanitiser.

“We put risk assessments in place to comply with government regulations, and had specialists advising on additional measures so we could run as smoothly as possible,” says Potgieter. “It has been vital to focus on the health of all employees. With induction, training and monitoring, we have seen close adherence at head office and at our sites around the country.”

This compliance – and early recognition as an essential service provider – allowed the company’s manufacturing facilities to be brought back up to speed shortly before the move to Level 4 lockdown. Manufacture of critical spares to customers could resume, and by mid-May there was a full complement on the factory floor, although administrative staff continue to work at home wherever possible. Baller highlights the importance of open communication with all staff, allowing sharing of ideas and suggestions.

“We have erred on the side of caution, as we don’t want to underestimate the impact of the virus,” he says, “especially with the peak of infections still coming.”

Weba Chute Systems was able to resume some of the most urgent site visits to mining customers in May, observing the strict conditions on mine access. This allowed equipment maintenance to continue for those mines that remained operational, and for those ramping up their production after the initial lockdown.

Baller notes that businesses are reconsidering many of their assumptions about working practices in the office. Covid-19 has led to the implementation of new strategies in terms of flexible hours, performance monitoring and digital systems, he says. This shift is likely to assist productivity in future, with remote working becoming more common even after government restrictions are relaxed.

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