Change to Government Guidance
On 26 November 2020, the North East was placed in Tier 3 national restrictions and moved into Tier 4 restrictions on 30 December 2020. On 4 January 2021, the government announced the 3rd national lockdown.
We have reviewed the guidance for Tier 3 and 4 and the new national lockdown which came into effect on Tuesday. Both sites remain fully operational and we will continue to work safely from each.
As we navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19, our primary concern remains the health and safety of colleagues and their families and the local communities in which we operate. We continue to follow government guidance and create COVID-secure workplaces to reduce the risk of infection at work.
We also remain committed to doing everything as safely as possible to maintain operational continuity and minimise any service or supply disruptions to our customers.
Omega Plastics, Gateshead – FULLY OPERATIONAL
Omega Plastics has remained fully operational throughout the pandemic to support all customers, including those involved in the supply of COVID-19 or other medical projects.
Our toolroom continues to run at normal capacity and shift patterns supporting several COVID-19 projects along with other tooling work for our customers in medical, automotive, industrial and technical products, consumer products or other sectors.
As we move forward, we continue to grow our toolroom team as well as investing in an upgrade of Mastercam software. The investment allows us to utilise updated software functionality to support the demanding complexity of customers products in both design and manufacture process. We also received delivery of a new 140T injection moulding machine in early December, which has been commissioned and increased our moulding capacity with the investment being made following a rapid increase in one of our customers requirements.
Our moulding and assembly teams continue to provide our normal 24/5 low volume and technical moulding service across our 50T-300T press range supporting customers in the medical, automotive, industrial, and technical and consumer products and other sectors.
Signal Plastics, Washington –FULLY OPERATIONAL
Our moulding and assembly teams at Signal continue to provide our normal 24/5 high volume and technical moulding service across our 40T-1,300T press range, supporting customers in automotive and industrial and technical products.
To support Signal Plastics’ growth, we received delivery of a new 520T injection moulding machine with robot and ancillaries in late December, which has been commissioned and has increased our capacity across Omega Plastics Group. Further investment in injection moulding machines is planned for March.
We have put in place measures to adapt both of our sites and to change our working practices to ensure good hygiene, social distancing and reduced transmission risk. Since our last operational update in November, these measures now include all colleagues wearing a face covering on site when they are not at their normal work area or desk. In December with cases rising both locally and nationally we also moved all internal meetings back to using video conferencing wherever possible.
We continue to review those measures regularly and consult with our colleagues on the steps we are taking to make our facilities and working practices as safe as we can.
We have spoken with colleagues who are clinically extremely vulnerable, who are now either working from home or staying at home in accordance with the guidance. We will continue to review their working arrangements, looking to minimise contact with others and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in their workspace.
Working from Home/Reception
To help contain the virus, everyone who can reasonably work from home must do so. As a manufacturing group, most of our colleagues need to be on-site to perform their roles. However, we have again reviewed all roles which could work from home. As a result, some colleagues in our Commercial, Tooling Design, Finance/HR and Quality teams, have recommenced working from home. Other colleagues in those teams will split their time between work and home to allow them to carry out their roles but also reduce numbers on site.
Due to colleagues working from home, calls to our central telephone numbers are being diverted to colleagues’ mobile phones. Whilst we have not experienced any issues with this during the last 12 months, there may be occasions in high call volumes where we cannot answer your call quickly as we would hope to. If you have any issues contacting our central number, please pick up directly with your OPG contact.
To reduce the number of people on either site, wherever possible, we are using video conferencing, telephone calls or email to communicate with customers, suppliers, and business partners. However, where there is a business-critical need for an in-person visit we have in place protocols to accommodate those visits. Only a limited number of visitors to each site will be permitted daily. All visits must be arranged in advance and approved by an executive team member.
Supporting our Customers
We continue to discuss with our customers how COVID-19 is impacting them and how we can support. We are working with several customers to rapidly develop new tooling to react quickly to different opportunities, or replacement tooling for transfer moulding production (whether prototype/pilot, low or high volume) where they are seeing an impact to their UK or worldwide supply chains and have an urgent need for product or alternative more local supply chains.
We are currently experiencing minor delays in receiving packaging supplies as there is a general shortage following Christmas, along with the ongoing national demand due to lockdown and online shopping. We remain in close contact with any customers that may be affected to ensure everyone is aware of their current status, minimising impact as much as possible and ensuring continuity of supply.
By the end of September, all colleagues across the group had returned to work on normal hours and pay. This was one of our key targets at the start of the pandemic, and it is great for us to have everyone back.
Since then, as part of our growth plans many new colleagues have joined us working across different technical, operations and support roles. Overall, our headcount has increased over the last 12 months from 110 colleagues to over 150 colleagues.
- The appointment of Tim Graham in a new Moulding Programme Manager role. Tim will influence the first tool trials and enhance our continuous improvement programme, as well as providing a four-way link between commercial, projects, tooling and moulding.
- Darren Evans has joined the Group as Group Quality and Compliance Manager (Interim) until the end of 2021. Darren is a multi-skilled quality professional and will now have overall responsibility for Quality and Compliance at both Omega Plastics and Signal Plastics.
- Two new Quality Technicians, Craig Woolnough and Wendy Maxwell, have been appointed at Omega Plastics to continue to grow our Quality Assurance resource at Team Valley.
- 3 new Tooling Engineer appointments and an additional Tooling Apprentice to meet increasing levels of demand.
- 3 new apprentices at our Signal Plastics facility in Washington, bringing our total number of apprentices to 4.
We are proud to continuously invest in the future of Omega Plastics Group and continue with our training and growth plans despite the ongoing pandemic. We are currently in the process of recruiting a dedicated Quality Manager for Omega Plastics, which is a new dedicated role for us. This role will support Darren and be responsible for managing the operational quality resources and processes at Omega Plastics.
We will continue to exercise caution as the pandemic evolves, particularly during this period of new national restrictions. However, we look forward to 2021 with great optimism and expect to make some further exciting announcements in relation to investment in people, facilities, and our capability over the next 12 months.
If you have any additional queries, please do not hesitate to contact your OPG contact. Our contact details are on our website, you can find them here.
I would like to thank all customers, suppliers and business partners for their continued support and trust. We look forward to working with you during 2021.
Stay safe and well.
Group Managing Director
Issued: Week 1 (Friday 8 January 2021)