Construction Confusion Surrounding Delta Variant

Construction Confusion Surrounding Delta Variant

You have probably heard talks of the delta variant of COVID-19 while scanning the latest news headlines.

Within New York State, we are entering into yet another phase of unchartered territory for private companies to navigate during this ongoing public health crisis. Given how much more easily delta is spread, should employers be concerned about this new threat? We want to ensure that your team is prepared for the next steps to stay safe and healthy on your job sites, with as little disruption as possible.

The delta variant is a more transmissible, more contagious strain of COVID-19.

Currently, it accounts for about 83% of new cases in the United States. It is surging in areas with lagging vaccination rates, like the Midwest and upper Mountain States, where cases and hospitalizations have recently spiked. Evidence is mounting that the delta variant is capable of infecting fully vaccinated people at a greater rate than previous versions, and concerns have been raised that they may spread the virus to extremely vulnerable, unvaccinated populations, according to virologists and epidemiologists. Ironically as the conversation surrounding the rapid delta strain spread heats up, statewide precautions are cooling down.

When June’s federal statistics indicated that New York State cleared the 70 percent of vaccinated adults threshold, Gov. Cuomo lifted all state-mandated COVID-19 health and safety requirements.

And while current CDC evidence finds that the current vaccines are effective against the delta variant (meaning those vaccinated will likely avoid getting severely sick or dying), discussion is swirling about vaccine effectiveness beyond the six-month mark. Just weeks ago, the city’s building department relaxed face-covering guidance per state and federal regulations. “The Department is rescinding our COVID enforcement to reflect changes in state guidelines,” said Department of Buildings spokesperson Seth Stein in early July. Just this week, however, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all New York City workers, including police, fire, and education employees, will be required to be vaccinated by September 13 or else submit to a weekly test. The mayor also urged private entities to consider setting similar vaccine mandates for their workplaces. If you’re confused about what the wisest next move is as an employer, you’re not alone.

As you’ve likely noticed, there has been a lot of mixed messaging from state officials throughout the pandemic, and new data is constantly changing the game plan for public safety, which means you need to be diligently aware of official health guidance.

Construction companies have largely adopted their own, individualized variations of safety precautions to protect workers. Some sites require masks to be worn at all times, others only require masks for unvaccinated employees or site visitors. Some are still adhering to six-foot social distancing measures, others have lifted that requirement completely. While construction site requirements in the city do not represent sites throughout the state, oftentimes the industry sees a ripple effect statewide. At this time, your company should reassess current site work safety protocols and determine whether or not workers are satisfied and feeling protected. If you haven’t checked in with your team via an in-person meeting or a digital anonymous survey lately, now is the time. Ultimately while health officials and lawmakers are citing rising concern over the new delta strain, it is up to your team to determine what course of action makes the most sense for your business and work culture. At RBT, we aim to pass along useful, relevant information to help our communities succeed, grow and prosper. As we continue to dedicate time and resources to helping our construction clients achieve success, we look forward to connecting with you and your team.

Sources: DOL, CDC, NPR, Reuters

What it Means to Get Lean: 4 Steps to Smarter Manufacturing

What it Means to Get Lean: 4 Steps to Smarter Manufacturing

Manufacturing success typically relies this golden rule: produce more, spend less.

There is no better illustration of how to successfully follow that rule, than to practice lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing is defined by Twi Global as a production process based on an ideology of maximizing productivity while simultaneously minimizing waste within a manufacturing operation. The lean principle sees waste as anything that does not add to the value that customers are willing to pay for. The benefits of lean manufacturing include reduced lead times and operating costs and improved product quality. Lean companies operate as efficiently as possible, using the least possible staff time, equipment, and raw materials. In the high-cost, high-risk environment we’re living in, efficient use of raw materials is more essential than ever before. Below are four steps your team can take to boost profits as we finish out the year and head into 2022.

  1. Use Raw Materials More Efficiently

As you’re well aware, the prices of many manufacturing inputs — like metals, chemicals, and lumber — have skyrocketed over the last year. In June, manufacturers reported the biggest price jump in 42 years. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing price index rose to 92.1% last month, up 4.1% and hitting its highest mark since July 1979. It was the 13th straight month of price increases in the sector. Add to the mix that rising fuel prices have increased shipping costs, cyberattacks, and geopolitical instability threaten the viability of supply chains due to delays and price fluctuations. It’s not exactly an easy environment to operate in.

Rethink the term “waste” if you think it just refers to scraps on the plant floor. Waste can include excessive energy consumption, defects, motion, transport, queue time, and inventory. Analytical tools can help reduce waste by limiting the number of “touchpoints” that slow down or complicate the production process. Start by collecting data at every touchpoint in the supply chain and production cycle. Apply the metrics that make sense for your industry. If your processes require raw materials to cool down or heat up, factor the time into your equation. When your fact-finding is complete, assess the ways you can increase future efficiency.

  1. Give Incentives to Workers

Remember, frontline workers often provide the most effective solutions. As a bonus, engaging your workers in the brainstorming process can help with their buy-in when you implement changes. We cannot overstate enough how essential workers are in terms of successful lean manufacturing. Financial incentives can help persuade your employees to ramp up production. You can approach this through:

Individual incentives: which focus on specific tasks performed by frontline workers to increase productivity and avoid delays. If you can isolate certain tasks where a definitive need for improvement is identified, giving individuals a specific list of set goals may be the optimal approach.

Team incentives: which reward collective efforts. Because most tasks are done in conjunction with others, team incentives are usually easier to implement. Manufacturers can provide team incentives to improve the overall efficiency of the assembly line and encourages cooperation among workers.

  1. Extend Lean Principles to Offices

Lean efforts initially focus on the production process because it provides the most significant direct benefits, but the same principles can be applied to your back offices and corporate headquarters. These locations may also be affected by cost increases, supply disruptions, and delays. Apply the principles you’ve learned on the plant floor to selling, accounting, and other administrative functions. For instance, you might break office staffers into groups based on products or marketing aspects.

  1. Seek Outside Guidance

It’s easy to miss operational inefficiencies when you’re too close to the process. At some point, you might call in external guidance. This could include reaching out to industry specialists or financial consultants with experience helping companies in your niche implement lean strategies. Do your research and rely only on reputable sources. For more insight on how to help your business thrive and adapt, contact our Manufacturing Services Group today to schedule a conversation. Whatever the size of your venture, we can help you meet your immediate and long-term goals.

Source: © 2020, Powered by Thomson Reuters Checkpoint

How to Create a Multi-Year Plan

How to Create a Multi-Year Plan

Throughout the past several months, RBT dedicated our time to ensuring that non-entitlement units (NEUs) throughout the state were fully aware and prepared to receive Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provided by the Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) through weekly shows, you can review here. The July 9th application deadline quickly came and passed, and NEUs got to work requesting this unprecedented funding. Thankfully we were able to share the insight from various local leaders throughout Hudson Valley, to answer questions and spark creative eligible funding ideas. So with the historical addition of ARPA funding available to your community, how do you effectively assess your needs? If you haven’t already established a multi-year plan, now is the time to create your community wish-list, and gain valuable public viewpoints.

Whether ARPA funding will be used to address continuing pandemic-related crises and recovery efforts, to improve local infrastructure, or an array of other options is ultimately up to your team. Making informed decisions should not only focus on the needs of the moment but should also consider how today’s decisions will impact the future of the community. Specifically, governing boards need to understand how one-time revenues, like ARPA monies, can have long-term impacts on the future of local government and school district operations. These monies should be used to first fund non-recurring expenditures that meet the requirements outlined in the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and U.S. Department of Treasury’s (Treasury) resources. While these monies are not prohibited from being used for recurring expenses, be mindful that if used in this manner, a gap will be created in the ensuing year’s budget, as this one-time revenue source will no longer be available. Remember, you have access to this federal money until 2024 to allocate and until 2026 to spend. To effectively manage local capital assets, you must develop a long-term plan to address how you monitor and maintain assets and determine how much you can spend within your budget. By developing a structured approach, you can help avoid unexpected expenses that pop up.

Developing a multi-year plan allows you to:

  • Document procedures to help guide management in decision making
  • Establish priorities and determine infrastructure needs
  • Determine the cost-effectiveness of maintaining existing assets versus financing new assets
  • Develop a structured approach for making decisions to fund capital assets
  • Identify which assets need attention in any given year
  • Inform the public and collect feedback on future capital projects/purchases

When developing a long-range plan, ask your team:

  • Who will be responsible for overseeing the plan’s development and implementation?
  • How will an asset inventory and requests for capital assets be developed for the plan?
  • How many years should capital needs be projected?
  • Will property (such as buildings, land, vehicles and equipment) need to be acquired, constructed or reconstructed?
  • Who will be involved during the plan’s development (for example, board members, department heads, the general public, special interest groups)?

Your multi-year plan should detail when/how capital purchases will be made and paid for. Include:

  • An inventory of assets your municipality owns
  • Identification of the new capital assets needed
  • The priority in which assets are to be acquired, replaced, or repaired
  • Estimated costs of acquisition, replacement, or repair
  • The method by which assets will be financed

Together with your governing board, you should review the plan annually as a part of your budget process.

Make necessary adjustments, and monitor plan results over time to track goal progress. The governing board needs to communicate regularly not only with each other but also with the comptroller, controller/treasurer, and various department heads. Communication is key to ensure that those charged with making decisions have all the necessary information they need to be able to fulfill their responsibilities. As there are further developments our Firm will continue to inform local government leaders. Please feel free to contact our dedicated RBT team to discuss your local needs.

Source: OSC