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Year in Review: How COVID-19 Brought Innovative Change

Sandvik Coromant Employees Think 'Outside of the Box' During the Pandemic

2020 was a year for the history books. And while we often think of the many negative things related to COVID-19, there were also surprising revelations. See how some Sandvik Coromant employees worked in an unconventional, yet effective way, to support customers.

Brian Schmidinger 2 x 2.jpg 

Brian Schmidinger, Change Leader, Mebane Production Unit



Our focus from day one has been minimizing risk of contracting and spreading the virus, continuing to keeping everyone safe and healthy, and to meet our customers' delivery expectations.

Much like the rest of America, things have been constantly evolving as we navigate through this public health crisis. What has really been a great outcome has been the collaboration and forethought that everyone has contributed to changing the way we work. Our focus from day one has been minimizing risk of contracting and spreading the virus, continuing to keeping everyone safe and healthy, and to meet our customers' delivery expectations. Here in Mebane, the management team has leveraged the use of Microsoft Teams meetings to develop a robust strategy against COVID-19 without having to be in the same room, state or even country. These online meetings have occurred every day since March 9th and, as a result, we have implemented several new practices to keep everyone safe. Each day we find better ways to use digital tools like Office 365 to improve the way we work and share data while enabling employees who do not have to physically be in the building to work from home and still contribute to the success of Sandvik Coromant.

Read: Five Questions with Brian Schmidinger

Other precautions we have enacted include providing spray bottles with diluted bleach and paper towels to wipe down frequently used items, placing hand sanitizer throughout the facility to keep hands clean when we don't have the option of soap and water, restricting access to the facility for all visitors that are not business critical requiring that body temperature be checked for all contractors and visitors that are essential to our current activities, and implementing social distancing policies. To promote and enforce social distancing, we began staggering operator breaks and lunches to reduce the number of people in our breakroom at one time, removed chairs from the break room to ensure that everyone remain six feet from each other, and moved some employees from their desks to our training center to help them spread out. The management team reviews concerns from our employees and publishes a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to provide updates to our strategy for COVID-19. We utilize our digital information boards throughout the facility to remind everyone of best practices we should all engage in to ensure we keep everyone safe and healthy. All these activities have helped maintain a healthy work environment and take the edge off the worry surrounding COVID-19.

Keith Brake 2 x 2.jpgKeith Brake, Turning Specialist

Virtual troubleshooting sessions supported clients on the spot, in real-time.

With COVID-19, we have all been forced to evolve in ways that we did not expect. Remote or virtual support is becoming more and more relevant in today’s business climate and over the last several months I have been a part of many virtual troubleshooting discussions. These adjustments are not all bad, in fact, it has shown us that we can support our clients on the spot, in real-time. In the past, we would have made appointments to visit and be at the spindle for application evaluation but we have learned we can also be quite effective virtually as well.

Read: Five Questions with Keith Brake

Nick Falgiatano 2 x 2.jpgNick Falgiatano, Regional Sales Manager

Focused on value-adding activities to become overwhelmingly customer-centric.

My team looked at COVID-19 as an opportunity, shifting our focus to redefining our ways of working, embracing our digital tools, and utilizing them to stay connected to our customers and our organization. We focused on value-adding activities and became overwhelmingly customer-centric. To become more customer-centric, we’ve had to transform from vendor to partner, acting as a trusted advisor, operating more efficiently and effectively, having an even more in-depth understanding of the customer’s business, and optimizing the overall customer experience.

Read: Five Questions with Nick Falgiatano

This era of the customer means new challenges but also new opportunities for companies such as Sandvik Coromant. In many ways, the changes in customer behavior are an acceleration of digital trends that were already in motion before the pandemic hit. With that in mind, we’ve found that “getting it right,” means delivering on the three things our customers value most; speed, transparency, and expertise. It has become apparent that digitalization is critical in helping our industry adapt to the necessary speed it takes to compete in today’s market and is a primary driver of resilience in this new era. As a team, we view digitalization as more than just technology, it has to encompass a new framework that enables rapid response to changing situations. Overall, the key takeaway for our team during this global pandemic has been the need to build resilience into our DNA, and I feel as though we’ve done a good job doing so.

Dan Tucker 2 x 2 .jpgDan Tucker, Product Manager

Provided additional expertise remotely via Facetime or Microsoft Teams to involve product specialists, engineers, and programmer.

We overcame this challenge of COVID-19 with a divide-and-conquer strategy. We relied on the closest salesperson or specialist to support the customer in person, if possible. Then we provided additional expertise remotely via Facetime or Microsoft Teams to involve product specialists, engineers, and programmers. The most recent and very successful example of this is how we supported our customer, Flying S from Illinois. Keith Brake took care of what they needed in person, and I was able to provide support to Keith from my office in Oregon. By working together and implementing our new Lightweight CoroMill® 390 with a SilentTool milling adapter, we were able to increase their productivity by 500% and delivered a $324K cost savings to Flying S.

Read: Five Questions with Dan Tucker

Wally 2 x 2.jpgWally Calayag, Technical Sales Team

Doing his part to make life better for the medical heroes on the front lines.

When Wally Calayag saw the pain that surgical masks were causing medical professionals at a nearby hospital where his wife works as a nurse, he had an idea. Armed with a 3D printer and open source files, he started printing surgical mask extension straps, otherwise known as ear saver straps. And it wasn't long before he was making deliveries of these straps to the hospital to help those on the front lines, and in doing so, encouraging others to join the cause.

Read: Five Questions with Wally Calayag

Kyle Hughes 2 x 2.jpgKyle Hughes, Change Manager, Greer Production Unit

Created virtual field trips for local machining students who were taking classes at home.

The leaders at the Sandvik Coromant Greer Production Unit (PU) in Greer, SC, take workforce development very seriously. Under normal circumstances, you’d find Mike Hickey, Chris Parham, Kyle Hughes, and Kevin Miller speaking at career nights, coordinating toolboxes for first year machining students, and conducting facility tours. But with mandated school closures and work-based programs and internships canceled due to COVID-19, as well as scheduled field trips at the Greer facility, the team had to adapt to new ways of working to continue conversations around manufacturing career opportunities.

Read: Five Questions with Kyle Hughes

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