BC Lower Mainland Consortium

BC Consortium – A Year in Review

Unfathomable challenges and incredible opportunities - I think beyond the surrealness of the pandemic – the roller coaster of doing business in 2020 has certainly provided us all with a very unexpected yet interesting ride!  We’ve certainly accomplished things we never thought were possible before and we’ve become all too familiar with phrases including “disruption”, “innovative possibilities” and of course “mute your microphones”!

Our EMC BC SIG Networking Events are designed to provide opportunities for peers in Manufacturing to connect on issues of most interest to them and even in light of the crisis,  we managed to pivot from in-house sessions to virtual opportunities somewhat seamlessly.

Very, very special thanks to our Hosts, Best Practice Presenters, Subject Matter Experts and Community Partners this year who supported our EMC initiatives and participated in our sessions!  And to all of you who were able to join in on the discussion and learning - thank you for being part of our EMC Events this year!!

In early March, prior to COVID-19 impacting Canadians at large, we were honoured to visit with Mauser Packaging Solutions in Langley.  This was an excellent and highly interactive event that engaged various company representatives and focused on their “Manufacturing Excellence Program”! 

A fabulous overview of Mauser Packaging Solutions was provided including their corporate philosophies and improvement initiatives to date.  They are a leading manufacturer producing consumer packaging with over 180 facilities around the world. 

The focus of discussion was to provide a high-level overview of the “Manufacturing Excellence Program” Model which is based on 12 Principles and Execution Steps.  To that end our Host highlighted the development and implementation of the program.  He also spoke of the importance of gaining engagement and building a positive and contributing team culture, and then outlined some of the successes they have seen to date via this journey.

To provide a good perspective on their step expansion, participants were split into four groups and toured the facility with a representative who highlighted a specific element of the business including Health and Safety, Customer Sales, Predictive and Preventative Maintenance, and Manufacturing/Quality Control/Continuous Improvement initiatives.

Manufacturers attending were thoroughly impressed with the passion and knowledge the Mauser Team shared.  Everything was extremely well-organized and the tour absolutely terrific!

With the pandemic in full force, we pivoted to virtual events – which was a bit of a learning curve for everyone – including those working remotely from home and those engaged at the plant – but, we have all mastered this more than we thought possible pre-crisis times!

With some urgency in mind regarding pandemic requirements, our first virtual event was with Eric Ito, Lawyer, who addressed “Navigating COVID-19 in Compliance with Health and Safety and Human Rights Legislation”.  It was an important session considering things were changing around us so fast.  Some companies were struggling with requirements – others were in the midst of policy development and safety protocols – there were plants that had halted altogether and others who would inevitably face closures and those who were figuring out how they might pivot to aid in the cause or to just survive.  It was a scary time for many companies – and for some continues to be so but we are today much better equipped and prepared then we were when the first wave hit just prior to this event and there were so many “unknowns”.  Eric provided us with a very detailed report of the current state of affairs from a legal perspective and addressed the unique situations that those present were dealing with.

Following the legal update, we asked Chad Metcalf, President of Value Stream Solutions, to join us and share his thoughts regarding “Leadership in a Time of Crisis”.  Never before has there been a time when good Leadership is so crucial. 

Chad mentioned that during this period of considerable and ongoing change there is also an opportunity for continuous learning and sharing of ideas, and that good leaders demonstrate commitment to finding a path through these challenging times. 

As Leaders, we need to be able to ask the questions employees have mulling through their minds.  Listen, update often, and thank people for their input – this will lead to trust and the ability to move forward.  Communication is imperative and in a time of crisis it needs to be frequent and delivered in a manner that is meaningful, truthful and actionable.  Some qualities of a great leader include: 

  • Empowerment
  • Engagement
  • Influence
  • Innovation
  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Transparency
  • Adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Continuous learning

With summertime in full force, and the pandemic officially five months in, Human Resource Managers were then invited to take part in a general “HR Roundtable Discussion” to catch up and share with peers.  We covered a wide-breadth of topics not the least of which included:

  • Workforce planning issues - planning for growth and resumption of production or alternatively downsizing and dealing with decreases in customer needs
  • Challenges of temporary layoffs and recalls to work
  • Student engagement
  • Task Force development focusing solely on COVID and safety tools
  • Keeping employees safe on the floor by limiting people to work on only certain projects
  • Temperature checks and managing three key questions to determine fitness to work
  • Making lunchtime work by staggering employees, using boardrooms, ordering extra chairs
  • Creating extra space for meetings that allow distance between participants
  • Benefits of working with a Corporate HR and Disaster Management Teams
  • Staff ergonomics allowances
  • Working from home challenges
  • Handling of personal computers used for remote work
  • Using Microsoft Teams and Zoom to stay in touch
  • Pay increases – bonuses, “danger pay”
  • Company communication and implementation of motivational business videos to keep employees informed
  • Mental health and psychological first aid needs
  • Utilization of Employee Assistance Programs

Earlier in the year, when COVID-19 first began, we did our best to expedite a Legal Update on our obligations at that time.  As the months passed, and the second phase of COVID19 became a reality, we invited Eric Ito, Lawyer, now with Cooperwilliams Law in Vancouver, once again to share the latest insights from a legal perspective on this constantly “Changing Regulatory Environment and Planning Forward”! 

As we flipped our calendar to October and the second wave of the pandemic became a reality, we elected to Host a special EMC BC Manufacturers Event focusing on “Building a Respectful Workplace - A Look at Bullying and Harassment”.  The impact on the health and well-being of victims can be long term and have a tremendous effect on their ability to perform or function within their roles or remain engaged as they once were.  Without properly addressing instances, Plant culture can erode and talent retention and subsequent attraction become that much more difficult.

We were pleased to welcome Amenda Kumar, Occupational Health and Safety Consultant for Mental Health Injury Prevention in Consultation and Education Services from WorkSafe BC, who provided insight, examples, and reviewed readily accessible resources available on this topic!

She shared a detailed overview of the Bullying and Harassment Experience addressing what workplace harassment and bullying look like, how it ties into the Act, how to develop and sustain respectful workplaces, key resources and underscoring that this is everyone’s responsibility.

As mentioned in the beginning, we’ve come to appreciate that this year has been full of challenges and also of opportunity.  In response to the pandemic, Industry had to adapt and change rapidly - leading to new ways and means of conducting business.  As we prepare for a winter of uncertainty, we are now armed with tools, knowledge and ready resources that were not available or even known earlier this year. 

Together with the City of Richmond, we invited Richmond Manufacturers and others interested in attending a special industry briefing looking at the future and “The Way Forward”. 

Honoured guests on our panel included representatives from Mauser Packaging Solutions, Fine Choice Foods Ltd., City of Richmond and EMC.  Discussion ensued regarding lessons learned from the pandemic; how companies have adapted; today’s most pressing industry issues; what do we need to grow; where do future opportunities lie that would enable competitiveness; and what does the future of manufacturing look like?

Excellent discussion and interactive peer opportunities made this a very exciting learning experience for everyone who was able to participate.

We finished the year off with an event that showcased continuous improvement opportunities from a health and safety standpoint.  Together with Jose Barranco of WorkSafe BC and a theme of “Thinking Forward – Thinking Safety”.  At this session our attention was on “Developing a World Class Safety Program”.  WorkSafe BC shared resources and insight on what a Program of this nature might entail around Safety Management Systems, Compliances, and so forth – including the main components of a Safety Program; the return on investment; the impact of an effective Safety Program on workplace culture; and familiarization of the BC Workers Compensation Act and BC Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

Looking ahead, we know that 2021 will be much the same for the first part of the year and we’ll endeavour to continue providing timely and informative sessions to connect with your peers!  This virtual presence provides not only a regional opportunity to meet with local Members but a national one as well!

As the Schedule for 2021 comes to fruition, I can share a couple of dates that you can mark on your calendars right away:

January 21st, 2021Continuous Improvement Best Practice (More information to come soon!)

March 9th, 2021Legal Update with Eric Ito, Lawyer, Cooperswilliams Law, Vancouver

We look forward to the ongoing development of an interesting Event Schedule for you this year!  And, if you are interested in sharing your best practices/current journey to date, let me know – we would love to have you do so!

Looking back over the last 12 months, it was definitely a roller coaster ride – however, seeing companies connecting, working together, sharing resources and learning from each others experiences has made this year unlike any other.  We’ve managed to get to the platform safely, we’re in the midst of the second wave, but now we are better prepared and better equipped and we’ve learned from our experiences and along the way have come to appreciate all of the learning opportunities and achievements that surfaced during our journey here.

Thank you so much for your interest and support in our networking events and programs!  We are delighted to have you involved as Members – and if you are not yet an EMC Member, please join us!  As always, if there is ever anything I can do for you, feel free to reach out – I would be happy to help!

Wishing you all my most sincerest wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season and a Happy New Year too!

Take care – Happy Holidays!

Our EMC BC Lower Mainland Consortium presents a perfect opportunity for you to connect with peers in industry! 

Throughout the year, we look forward to providing some excellent SIG (Strategic Interest Group) Networking Event opportunities for you to participate in!  We will be sharing best practices, visiting plants across the Lower Mainland, connecting in group settings and on a one-to-one basis.  The topics are relevant, timely and thought-provoking.

Together with our Hosts, I would like to invite you to mark your calendars and join us at one of our upcoming Events this year.  You can find detailed information on each session on our Consortium Page and also on the Events Calendar.

As always, we welcome your input and feedback, and appreciate learning from your experiences!  If you are interested in hosting or in sharing best practices at any time - please email me - I would be thrilled to hear from you!

Finally, just a note, if you have not had the chance to register online as either a Member or as a Member of our Online Community, please take a moment to do so, that we may keep you abreast of our latest news.  And in light of CASL Legislation, please drop me a note to let me know that you would like to receive our EMC Update and Invitations to Lower Mainland initiatives - we don't want you to miss anything!

Welcome once again to EMC!


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