Social Distancing on the Shop floor (Thinking outside the 1.5m box)

With COVID-19 cases spreading throughout Australia, manufacturers want to take precautions, protect employees and keep production running safely. But, how do you ensure this in a complex environment like a shop floor? 

The ‘work from home rule’ doesn’t apply to manufacturing shop floor staff who are required to keep output and production lines runningparticularly when some FMCG productare experiencing a surge in demand.  

Effective separation and cleaning are most likely the two biggest procedures your operations can adopt to help get through this challenging period. 

In the case of high manual or repetitive work at a manufacturing line, implementing a social distancing protocol can be challenging.  If the current labour planning and set-up cannot comply with the rule to stay at least 1.5 metres away from each other you could risk production line closures, or you could speak to Pollen and how we can quickly re-think your factory, layout and flow to minimise people contact and movement, alongside ensuring volumes can still be met.  


Using our extensive skillsets across; 


Line Balancing is a standard production labour optimisation concept.  When conducting a line balancing exercise, the utilisation of each of the operative working on the line is determined and typically the following information gathered: 

  • Can any activities be combined? 
  • Can we eliminate any nonvalue added tasks? 
  • Can activities be broken down into smaller tasks and be redistributed? 

The data is then analysed and used to potentially change the number of operatives and the tasks that they perform. In the scenario, that a lower number of operators would be required, this would certainly aid with the implementation of a social distancing protocol. Or we look at combining roles and creating line cells which mean more distance can be placed between operators. 

If you have capacity line balancing could go hand-in-hand with assessing the optimum line speed and labour required. Slowing down the run speed of the line could enable you to manage the production line with less people and abide by the distancing rules. 

Where you are at capacity, we need to again think differently, planning optimisation, line hopping, small engineering changes and floor marking using lean principles will all be part of the solution. 

Simple layout changes or relatively inexpensive line extensions such as longer belts could be an option to help you implement the regulatory requirements and keep the line(s) running.  

We can even build a digital twin of your line to test any of the above will work within 72hrs. 

When we start thinking about indirect and line service crew, we need to think about how  we can replace physical flows with Kanbans, use other demand signals rather than face to face contact, sequence and plan flow or separate areas by shift patterns or my installing segregated areas controlled by theoretical not real walls. 

Put simply, you have got a factory to run and people need your products, reach out and we can help you do this efficiently and safely.   

To learn more about other approaches to enable social distancing and how we can help you – contact Pollen: 0282 268 748 / [email protected]