Magna International

Preparing for the Next Unknown: Manufacturing Reimagined

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by John Farrell, President, Cosma
August 4, 2020

There was no playbook for dealing with COVID-19 or the restart of Magna’s operations after the first wave of the pandemic hit, until our team of experts drew up one. A 60-page “Smart Start” guide spells out best practices and details like disinfecting guidelines, physical distancing, the use of personal protective equipment, and contact tracing procedures.

The Magna Smart Start Playbook has been continually updated, and as we prepare for the “next unknown,” it requires us to be more proactive about understanding the different forms of infectious disease transmission that can occur throughout our community and workplaces.

A key takeaway: the COVID-19 crisis is likely to have permanent effects on the manufacturing environment, from designing future processes and plant layouts to accelerating the digital transformation on the shop floor. The lessons we’ve learned at Magna not only have applications for the global auto industry, but for mass producers of goods in general. Our goal is to keep people safe – and to reimagine the way manufacturing work is done.

A Magna task force made up of more than a dozen technical experts and problem solvers from operations, including sequencing, molding, painting, assembly, and stamping; the medical sciences; and HVAC engineers served as advisors on the latest set of protocols, entitled “Health Smart Operations Playbook.” Their recommendations include:

  • The Smart Start Playbook and subsequent releases are solid, and the recommendations therein with respect to personal hygiene, disinfecting protocols, physical distancing, and PPE usage must continue
  • Broadening the scope of work planning activities to include COVID-19-related protocols and measures into our well-established Standardized Work, Periodic Work, and Non-Standard Activities practices, in order to essentially address all areas of work undertaken in our plants
  • Enhancing ventilation, filtration and maximizing fresh air throughout a facility to reduce droplet transmission
  • Install infrastructure for long-term physical distancing
  • Emphasizing employee education and training with a focus on increasing awareness of the best way to manage activities inside and outside of the workplace
  • Provide for employee separation throughout the facilities

Every manufacturer must be ready to respond, even more quickly, the next time some new global crisis or disease arises. What we’ve learned at Magna is that even the greatest challenge gives us the opportunity to become safer, more productive and more resilient.

Photo of John Farrell

John Farrell

Guided by our Operational Principles, Magna’s world-class manufacturing mentality helps drive not only our business, but our reputation. We embed production efficiencies and cost consciousness into our operations from the start. And we continue to have a laser focus on quality, especially important as we continue to win business and support more than 250 vehicle launches around the world each year.

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