From the moment Artel receives a PO or a request for delivery, the company’s operations team is hard at work doing all it takes to get the job done and do it right. Responsible for assembly, testing, packaging, and shipping, operations drives delivery of the products essential to customer success.
“Our operations team is remarkable not only for its experience, but also for its tremendous professionalism, flexibility, can-do attitude, and commitment to the customer,” says Tom Fyfe, vice president of finance at Artel. “The pride that team members take in their department and their respect for one another are evident in the way they work together to make our business thrive and help our customers achieve their goals.”
Over the past year, the operations team has demonstrated these qualities by coming through for Artel and its customers in tough times. Facing the challenges and uncertainties caused by a global pandemic, the operations team has taken on tough jobs outside their usual purview, and have gone above and beyond to deliver.
Handling the COVID-19 Challenge
The emergence of COVID-19 early in 2020 threw the world into chaos. Early on, without much clear information on the situation, Artel had to make decisions about how to keep employees safe, ensure business continuity, and continue delivering product to customers.
While many on the Artel team have had the luxury of working from home during the pandemic, the work of assembling, packing, and shipping product is a hands-on process — a process undertaken by the operations department. Artel leadership and members of the operations team laid out a plan for continuing these tasks in a safe environment, with changes to physical workspaces, work schedules, and cleaning and disinfecting practices.
“The team’s professionalism and commitment to the customer were clear in their eagerness to continue working and willingness to adhere to any protocols put in place to protect them and any essential visitors to the building,” says Bruce Alden, production manager at Artel. “Operations staff kept our product going out the door and also supported members of the engineering team working remotely. Whether it was doing a bit of rewiring in the engineering lab or grabbing equipment for someone to pick up and take back to an ‘engineering bunker’ at home, our team stepped up. They did whatever was needed to help out.”
DIY Moving Day
To overcome timing challenges and keep its costs low, Artel took on a move of its entire business — manufacturing, engineering labs, corporate, and the rest — to a new space. The DIY approach made sense; the company had a detailed plan for every part of the move, and the new space was literally next door, on the opposite side of a shared wall. Nevertheless, it was an immense project, complicated by the sheer volume of equipment and by the need to maintain social distancing protocols.
“It was a Herculean effort, for sure,” says Fyfe. “We talked about hiring movers, but Bruce and his team asked if we couldn’t do it just as well ourselves, and more economically. He had a plan for everything and was like a field general out there. I would say that it happened on time, according to our schedule, but we were a couple of days early in finishing the move, and we made sure that not a single customer was affected.”
The move was preceded by meetings to determine a new layout that would support the workflow of each Artel department. With this plan in hand, the operations team opened up a wall separating the old space from the new and then moved racks, product, assembly and test equipment, office furniture, and all the rest through and into its proper place. Staff from other departments — and engineering, in particular — stopped by the building at night to leave notes about what to move, where, and when. The next day, operations made sure every item reached its designated destination.
Though the company had alerted customers that it would be shutting down for several days to accommodate the move, Artel received an emergency order in the midst of the project. With a bit of extra communication and teamwork to get the necessary systems up and running, Artel was able to get the order out the door.
Inauguration Delivery ASAP
Artel typically shuts down for a week at the end of December to do inventory and essentially close the books for the year. This means manufacturing is on pause during that time. At the close of 2020, however, the company received an urgent order just as it was entering shutdown.
Most Artel customers go into large-scale live events already equipped with the inventory they need. The company’s products are a mainstay for major awards shows, popular parades, and major political events. For the 2021 presidential inauguration, though, the need to implement new and different remote workflows called for more equipment than usual. The communications provider (and Artel customer) got the details less than a month before the event and needed product in a short time frame.
Although the product itself was pretty standard, the end-of-year request was completely unexpected, so Artel hadn’t stocked up in anticipation. The order came in on a Monday during Artel’s shutdown and was shipped by Thursday.
“We had to scramble to make sure that we had enough inventory,” says Joanne Pederson, sales director. “We juggled orders, repacking product and boxes, to meet this emergency request without coming up short on our commitments to other customers. Our team worked extra hours with no complaint to deliver the product quickly, and they are rightly proud of all they achieved. We heard from vice presidents of the company down to people in the field thanking us for coming through because we made them look very good as well.”
Time and time again, the Artel operations team comes through for the company and for its customers. Their hard work, willingness to help however and whenever needed, and dedication to doing the job right is a huge reason customers feel confident putting their trust in Artel and its products.