Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Ken Sinclair & Brendan Howard
Brendan Howard, Partner, CIEL Capital, President Category 5,
Chair Board Directors at Start2Finish
The latest stage of reopening
Owners should therefore consider strategies under different scenarios, with current constraints in effect under short, medium, and long-term circumstances.
Sinclair: How can manufacturing businesses evolve to best serve their employees and patrons during the latest stage of reopening?
Howard: I think the most important thing companies can do is to keep evolving their strategies as we learn more and more everyday about this virus. Early on, many companies grasped for any solution that would provide a quick fix under the assumption that the pandemic would quickly pass. Some of those solutions have stuck around. Increasingly, companies need to recognize that they need safe, effective, and efficient tools and processes that can withstand a longer time horizon.
As an example, we provide automated thermal camera solutions. Early on, many companies seized on basic temperature readers to screen employees and patrons. This rudimentary technology can yield inaccurate temperature readings, be unsafe to those taking the temperature, and be highly costly due to the manual nature of such a process. Companies are increasingly recognizing that solutions such as automated thermal cameras, of high quality and accuracy, can address such challenges.
Fundamentally, it is important that one constantly challenge existing processes and evolve strategies to meet developing needs.
Sinclair: What suggestions do you have for manufacturing business owners on what they can do to instill confidence in their employees and customers during and beyond COVID-19, including short and medium-term transformations of the business layout?
Howard: As a society, we are still not sure how long and at what level our safety protocols will need to continue in a ‘new normal’ scenario. In making any investment, business owners want to understand the time horizon for the investment. Owners should therefore consider strategies under different scenarios, with current constraints in effect under short, medium, and long-term circumstances. In our client partnerships to develop and deploy plans for manufacturing businesses, we have seen this express itself in two ways.
Firstly, some investments make sense under short, medium, and long-term scenarios. As an example, employee feedback on thermal cameras has been enthusiastic with roughly ¾ feeling more or much more comfortable with a Health Canada certified thermal camera in use for temperature screening of employees. When compared to manual methods, the financial return on investment has been a matter of weeks. Where investments make sense under all scenarios, the decision is easier.
Secondly, when it is not so clear, strategies to keep options open can be used in the interim. We have employed print-based signage strategies for offices and plant floors to encourage physical distancing and hygiene. This can keep options open by purposefully employing cost-effective stop-gap solutions while we work with the client to deeply consider and develop longer-term approaches that make sense regardless of the duration of the pandemic.
Sinclair: Should manufacturing businesses be concerned about accuracy and privacy with thermal camera imaging?
Howard: With respect to accuracy, there are major differences across technologies. Unfortunately, there are inaccurate and untested thermal cameras in the market. This has unfortunately led to concern about the technology more broadly despite the fact that some, including the thermal cameras we distribute, are of extremely high quality and are certified by Health Canada as authorized COVID-19 medical devices. So it’s critical to know what you are buying and work with professionals who understand the ins and outs of the technology, notably temperature calibration to ambient environmental temperature.
With respect to privacy, it comes down to configuration. Like accuracy, there is variation in the market. Speaking for ourselves only, we have developed customized workflows that allow the protection of privacy and enable fast response when high temperature readings occur. This includes on-premises hosting of data that strictly limits the sharing of information beyond authorized recipients.
Abou the Author
Brendan joined CIEL Capital in 2016 to
help guide strategy and growth initiatives for existing and prospective
portfolio companies. He also manages CIEL’s portfolio company Category
5 Imaging Inc.
Brendan built his business strategy career with Secor Consulting, then KPMG Management Consulting, and most recently as Director of Strategy and Competitive Intelligence at Aimia. Brendan has B2B and B2C experience in the Retail, Consumer Products, Health, Energy, Education, Media, and Manufacturing sectors. Brendan works primarily on growth and innovation strategy, strategic planning, go-to-market strategy, negotiation strategy and market intelligence. He draws on learnings from high growth and mature private sector clients, in addition to public and public-private partnerships to develop novel, customized strategies.
Brendan holds an M.Sc. in Public Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science (with distinction) and a B.A. (HBA), Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario (with distinction).
Brendan is a Board Member on Start2Finish, a fitness and literacy-focused children’s charity. He maintains ongoing involvement with the Ivey School of Business as Class Liaison after serving as Student Council President during his undergrad.
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