The coronavirus pandemic has affected industries worldwide, economically and structurally. In record time, organisations have been forced to adapt to a new environment and respond to a wide range of issues: import and export constraints; delays/interruptions in supplies essential for production; increased staff absences and insufficient labour; occupational health and safety concerns; and changes in client demand.
The recycling industry in the COVID-19 era: technical assistance and supply chain issues
In recent months, waste plants have continued to operate non-stop and many have even experienced an increase in activity. This is because the function provided is directly linked to certain essential services, such as food or health.
For numerous recycling plants, maintaining production has not been easy, as step-by-step solutions to critical pandemic-related issues have been required. For instance, restrictions on the movement of people and goods have resulted in many companies experiencing supply chain problems or a lack of technical assistance, particularly when dependent on foreign suppliers.
There are still major restrictions on international movement. Logistical transport is not working at full capacity either. This continues to jeopardise the delivery of materials by the deadlines established. This makes it easier for local suppliers to guarantee a delivery date for either a product or a service.
Experts warn of the need to ensure good supply management and therefore recommend having alternative, preferably local, suppliers to protect production.
PICVISA, a local supplier with in-house development and 24/7 technical assistance, in your language
PICVISA has been offering automation and artificial vision solutions for recycling plants for more than 15 years. Over this period, our products have evolved greatly and now feature disruptive technology such as Artificial Intelligence when developing all our equipment. Ecopick, our intelligent robot for automating sorting and quality control tasks, is a fine example of this commitment to investing in R&D.
During the pandemic, we have continued providing fast, professional responses for our clients. At no stage were we forced to stop manufacturing equipment or providing technical assistance. First, this has been possible because our whole production and supply chain is in Spain. We do not depend on foreign markets. Second, we have always been committed to in-house development and production over outsourcing.
Subcontracting lowers costs, but also means a certain loss of control over production. Therefore, at PICVISA, we never outsource R&D or production, ensuring high levels of efficiency.
Additionally, due to our own team of engineers specialized in robotics, and artificial intelligence and vision, we can control the entire production process with maximum guarantees: from designing equipment to implementation at the clients’ facilities.
Despite the health crisis, from our testing facility in Calaf (Barcelona), our clienters have the option of testing our machines remotely, thus facilitating and streamlining their purchasing decision. Instead of visiting our test centre, as used to be the case, clients can assess how effective our equipment is for their product sorting and quality control, following the whole process through video recordings at all times.
Our online technical support teams have worked around the clock and technical assistance has been maintained, prioritising where possible remote equipment repairs and remote revision. Furthermore, in essential cases at the height of the pandemic, our technicians visited clients’ facilities. All health precautions were taken in each instance. Another key factor streamlining troubleshooting is that our technical team speaks Spanish, something only possible when business relationships involve local (and not international) companies.
Based on our experience with several enterprises in 2020, the evidence suggests that developing closer links between domestic companies to cover certain needs is a trend that’s here to stay. Indeed, some findings indicate that a certain level of industrial patriotism, stemming from supply problems faced in certain sectors, is returning. This will result in reinforced research, in-house production and supply chains being locally redefined.