For business and organisations in the vacuum technology space, COVID-19 has changed the way in which they operate indefinitely – with many experiencing the effects in different ways. It has, without a doubt, been a harsh and challenging year, but signs of recovery are on the horizon as government-imposed lockdowns ease and many of these businesses and organisations resume (in some way) operations. .
The vacuum technology experts at Leybold took a look at the effects of COVID-19 on the vacuum technology industry over the last five months and – in conjunction with an independent research consultant – compiled a report to better understand the state of the market.
In this blog, we will summarise our main findings and what these findings mean for the industry as a whole.
Please note: the survey referenced in this blog is part of a report conducted online and circulated to vacuum users throughout the United States in various industries, including manufacturing, space, research, education, government and more. For the full breakdown – including other information – please click here to download it.
Just over a quarter of facilities operating vacuum equipment remain “open as usual”
For vacuum pumping operations that require a physical workforce, the biggest challenge has been implementing and maintaining social distancing while ensuring workers feel safe.
Indeed, in the survey conducted by Leybold, almost half (46%) stated that managing business operations while social distancing was their main concern. It should come as no surprise, then, that just over a quarter (26%) of facilities operating vacuum equipment remain open as usual.
Much of this comes down to the stringent guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Employers planning to resume normal or phased business operations must:
- Conduct daily health checks
- Carry out hazard assessments
- Encourage employees to wear face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
- Implement policies and practices for social distancing
- Improve the building ventilation system
Every vacuum pump user recognises the importance of these processes – no one is questioning them – the problem (for many, not just in the vacuum pumping industry) is getting them into place as quickly as possible. In our survey, almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents agreed that the primary focus was incorporating additional health and safety procedures to return to operation.
Almost half (48%) of the facilities operating vacuum equipment have embraced partial remote working
While vacuum pumping facilities often require a physical workforce, many businesses and organisations have updated and enhanced their processes to enable partial remote working.
These businesses and organisations have most likely introduced staggered shifts, remote tools to operate vacuum pumps and social distancing measures that enable some operational capacity.
The shift to remote working is something we’ve seen across every sector, but with almost half in the vacuum technology/pumping field working remotely (and with almost a third open as usual – meeting CDC guidelines), the future is promising.
However, while these businesses and organisations have made the shift to operating remotely – albeit partially – one of the main issues our report discovered was that a third of these businesses and organisations (33%) struggled to keep employees engaged.
Without a doubt, the processes need to be ironed out, but the possibilities are endless.
A third (32%) are implementing new technologies to navigate the current environment
Things have changed for businesses and organisations working with vacuum technology, and in the last six months a third of those we interviewed have put a greater or renewed focus on the acquisition of new technology.
For many of these businesses and organisations, the primary reasons are business applications and cost savings. It’s highly likely that the technologies are being brought in to enable remote working and is much more cost-effective than the processes they have currently. Also bear in mind the fact that right now, at the very top of the corporate agenda is saving money and reducing spend – any tools that can help in that regard are a massive boom to operations. Among the new technologies are remote monitoring, remote operation and extended service intervals of vacuum equipment to reduce labour cost and presence of staff in the facility. One solution could be changing from wet pump technologies to dry pumps.
New skills and knowledge are increasingly important
COVID-19 has shone a light on the inefficiencies of businesses and organisations, prompting them to not only incorporate new technologies to enable remote working, but also encourage employees to learn new skills.
According to Leybold’s research report, almost a third of businesses/organisations using vacuum technology stated that learning new skills (31%) and attending more webinars (29%) has become a greater focus for them.
And when you think about what the new world holds – more operations being done remotely and online through the use of cutting-edge technology – it makes sense that businesses and organisations are asking employees to develop new skills and learn how to use new technologies.
These new skills will undoubtedly aid them in getting more value out of what they do, while understanding how to use the new technologies will make employees much more efficient. For example, an employee could watch a video on vacuum pump maintenance best practice and acquire new skills and knowledge that enables them to service pumps better and much faster.
The industry is changing – but are you ready?
If you want to find out more about how businesses and organisations using vacuum technology are coping, evolving and meeting the expectations of this new world, download the full research survey and find out about:
- The main activities of focus,
- The top operational challenges,
- The status of vacuum facilities across the US,
- And how pumps are being maintained and managed.
Please use the link below if you are interested.
(P.S. It’s totally free!)