manufacturing

Seismic change on global auto production could offer opportunities for Irish suppliers  

Continental AG addresses fresh challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

The company was forced to shut down all of its global tyre manufacturing operations within a short space of time as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and has recently begun a return to production. “During that period, we had to wind down operations efficiently as well as implement cost mitigation measures such as short-term work initiatives from national governments, having workers take holidays, as well as unpaid leave along with salary reductions at management level,” says David O’Donnell, Global Head of Passenger and Light Truck Tyres at Continental AG.

The company is now seeing a welcome but slow return to activity among key automaker customers globally. 

“We are observing more build-to-order in response to a concrete need for the vehicles in contrast to before, where they were built for an assumed level of demand.” said David O’Donnell

O’Donnell believes it will be several years before production levels recover. “We will be looking at 2022 or 2023 best case before we get to anything like 2019 volumes. Everybody will have to react to the seismic shift in volumes. We are looking at 70 million vehicles this year versus more than 80 million last year. If you can get used to the current level somehow, then you likely have two years of growth. The question is do you hold your capacity to be able to access more opportunities, or do you reduce your cost exposure in order to go into a new growth mode in a different way? That will put pressure on cost management and will also make them look at systems efficiencies and internal company structures.”

 

Focus on Agility

One impact of the global pandemic has been an enforced increased level of agility on the part of manufacturers. “How quickly can you ramp something down? Can you run with a portion of the plant and do that cost-effectively? How do you align it better system-wise to orders?” O’Donnell asks.

“They might have full orders for a certain vehicle and then change it completely from week to week or month to month. It will take time for people to get over their nervousness to rely on orders and feel comfortable with the new processes,” he adds. “Those who can adapt to that uncertainty will be winners in this situation.”

He believes this may present opportunities for Irish firms, which have a reputation for agility and flexibility. According to O’Donnell, anything a company can offer in terms of productivity, improving potential efficiency or agility such as adjusting payment terms for a period, holding more stock, or quickening pace of production would be beneficial.

 

Supply Chain

Opportunities may also exist in the dual procurement structure and more localised supply chain which could result from the crisis. “When China went into lockdown there were war room discussions in our organisation concerning who’s going to stop the slide first. It was a pivotal moment because you had electronic equipment coming from the huge manufacturing hub of China and that affected the batches in Serbia, for example. The aftershock will see OEMs discussing a change in tactics with their purchasing groups, as well as sourcing from multiple and more local suppliers going forward.”

Noting that the Trump administration’s policies have already led to a discussion about what operations can companies relocate to the US, O’Donnell says more nationalisation in Europe may bring more opportunities than in the past.

“A friend and colleague of mine is doing relatively small batch production of printed circuit boards and prototypes. He’s based in Germany and he has had a lot of requests because he is both local and agile as well as an alternative supplier to China. He might be more expensive but he’s offering the flexibility these companies need.”

But customers won’t be willing to pay higher prices forever. “Once the OEMs are back at full capacity with high volumes again, they will come very aggressively with price discussions as they try to regain profitability.”

He advises suppliers to be proactive in going after these opportunities. “It’s a question of arguing yourself into that space as a potential partner and bringing the advantages forward. Become ready for agility and be customer-centric by assessing challenges they have, look at the macro picture and present yourself as a local and flexible supplier. If you can do something there, you may have an advantage in winning long-term business.”

 

Market Watch Germany – Webinar – Managing and supporting channel partners

 

Enterprise Ireland’s offices in Germany have launched a series of Webinars: Market Watch Germany. Every Wednesday at 14:00 BST/15:00 CET a new theme will be addressed to help Irish companies exporting to Germany navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by Covid 19.

Managing and Supporting Channel Partners in the German market’ is the fourth installment of Market Watch Germany webinar series. The purpose of this webinar is to help Irish companies exporting to Germany navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by Covid-19.

Panellists:

Brian English an Engineer and Marketer with over 30 years international sales and routes-to-market experience.

Dr. Andrea Seidel, with a wealth of experience in business development and strategic partnership.

Paul Browne from Enterprise Ireland’s Client Management Development & Client Skills department.

Financial planning to accelerate your recovery

The global economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic is unlike any seen before in history in terms of the rapidity of its onset and its scale. It has been variously referred to as a black swan event or as a perfect storm, and for individual businesses worldwide its effects have included state- mandated shutdowns, a near total collapse in demand and, for the lucky, an enforced shift to new ways of working and business models.

As Ireland begins its first tentative steps towards a return to something approaching normality, businesses too must start planning their pathway to recovery and beyond. According to Business Transition Consultant Brendan Binchy, the first step for business owners is to analyse the company’s current position and develop a vision for the future.

He advises people not to panic. “It’s not a question of asking if the crisis will impact on the business and worrying about that,” he says. “It is self-evident that it will impact. You have to be proactive, not reactive. You might know how it will affect the business this year, but what about next year? Where do you want to be then? You need a to have vision for that. And from there you can work out what to do and what not to do and what you need to change.”

There are also actions which need to be taken immediately to stabilise the business. In Binchy’s view, these actions require businesses to examine and reset their business models, develop and implement very tight cash management strategies, and adapt and modify their operations to meet the new conditions in which they find themselves.

“You have to look at where you are financially, ask where your customers are coming from and why they buy from you, and if it is possible to recalibrate the business, to come up with a new model which will see it through the current period,” he advises.

That might be termed the firefighting or survival phase. The next stage is to plan for recovery and beyond. While planning in such times of massive uncertainty may seem an impossible or even futile task, Binchy believes it is worthwhile and an absolute necessity.

But the plan must be flexible and adaptive in order to deal with sudden changes in a highly dynamic environment. “We have to accept that what we think will happen may not come about. But if you don’t have a flight plan, you have no way of getting to your destination. When you’re up in the air you need to know where you’re going. You may get knocked off course from time to time and you will need to adjust the plan in response.”

Even the process of putting the plan together can be helpful, he notes. “It is cathartic and helps clarify things.”

This clarity comes from the examination of the business and its environment. Questions Binchy puts include:

  • Is your industry shut down or is it still working?
  • Are there opportunities there?
  • What has been the impact of the crisis on customers?
  • Do they still have money?
  • Do they still need your products or services?
  • Are there customers you no longer need?
  • What has been the impact on competitors?

Fortunately, there is help out there both to develop plans and implement them.

He points to the Enterprise Ireland Covid-19 Business Financial Planning Grant as a very important support. The grant, worth up to €5,000, can be used by companies to pay up to 100% of the cost of engaging an approved financial consultant. The consultant will work with the company to prepare a robust financial and business plan that identifies the funding needs and the potential sources of this funding.  

Another valuable support Binchy advises businesses to take note of is the Lean Business Continuity Voucher, which offers eligible companies up to €2,500 in vouchers for training or advisory services to help them identify and implement the measures needed to ensure they can continue to operate safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Support for the implementation of the plan is there in the form of the Enterprise Ireland Sustaining Enterprise Fund, which offers funding of up to €800,000. Very importantly, no repayments are required for the first three years of the five-year term of the advance and there is an annual administration fee of just 4%, making it a very attractive source of finance.

Smaller businesses can also apply for advances of up to €50,000 depending on their size under the Sustaining Enterprise Fund – Small Enterprise scheme.

“Businesses can also look to shareholders to put in new capital or go to the banks,”, Binchy concludes. “The important thing is to develop a plan and have the finance in place to implement it.”

 

Watch our webinar addressing the critical challenges facing Covid-19 impacted businesses – Accessing liquidity and managing cashflow.

Get advice from financial expert, Brendan Binchy on how best to navigate these issues and hear from Enterprise Ireland’s finance team on the financial supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

manufacturing

Cellix Ltd: Disrupting cell manufacturing and gene therapy with funding from the DTIF

Ireland has long been known for a high level of innovation and entrepreneurship, and now a fund worth millions of euro looks set to bring this innovation to a whole new level by investing in long-term projects that have the ability to make a significant global change within an industry.

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) was established under Project Ireland 2040 and is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Call 1 in 2018 awarded €75 million in state funding to 27 collaborative projects covering the health, food, ICT and manufacturing sectors.

Call 2, in 2019, resulted in 16 collaborative projects sharing €65 million, covering life sciences, medical devices, ICT, artificial intelligence, blockchain, manufacturing and environmental sustainability, including in the waste and energy sectors. This brings the total State funding awarded to industrial research projects under the two Calls of DTIF to €140 million across 43 projects with 159 project partners.

 

Emerging therapies

One area that has benefitted from DTIF investment has been cell and gene therapy, with four company-led projects receiving a total of €25.5 million. One of these projects is led by Cellix Ltd, a company providing high throughput cell analysis and sorting platforms for cell-based assays. Cellix and its consortium partners in Trinity College Dublin and the National University of Ireland Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute were awarded €3.4 million for developing a Microfluidic Gene Transfection Cell Analysis and Sorting Platform (GTCASP).

“The difference with DTIF compared with other funding in Ireland is the funding amount and its long-term nature,” explains Vivienne Williams, CEO and co-founder of Cellix Ltd. “Before, we would only have been able to apply for a grant that funds a few months’ work, but with DTIF, we have three years, which allows us to plan and produce a really good body of work from a scientific standpoint. Historically, for a long-term project such as this, we would have had to apply for a European grant, such as those under the European Commission Horizon 2020. These grants require us to work with a minimum of three partners in three different member states.

 

Streamlined approach

“DTIF is the first fund that allows us to work with Irish researchers on a project of this scale; the logistics even of just being in the same country as your researchers means that we can work much faster and interact so much more as our skillsets are extraordinarily complementary. Eight months in, we have already produced a great body of really interesting data.” said Williams.

 

International collaboration

The project led by Cellix stemmed from work carried out over 2017 and 2018, when Cellix harnessed collaborations with international partners to develop a label-free cell analysis and sorting platform. Cellix’s technology can now be used to identify, analyse and sort cells without compromising their biological function, avoiding the use of fluorescent dyes or other potentially disruptive labels. The DTIF funding will allow the technology already developed to be integrated into a new platform and validated for transfection capabilities.

This platform comprises a microfluidic chip through which cells from patients or donors can be characterised, sorted and can be subsequently genetically modified and sorted again. The GTCASP offers a fully automated, closed system in cell manufacturing for gene therapy. The goal is for this platform, when developed to become a standard in the area of gene therapy, therefore bolstering Ireland’s reputation for innovation in the area of cell manufacturing and gene therapy.

 

Commercial focus

“We’re about eight months into the project and already we’ve generated some really interesting results, which I’m discussing with potential commercial partners,” says Vivienne. “Just before we started the project, I visited Bio International in the US and met with a number of different companies developing cell therapies; the feedback was very positive and they want to be kept informed of progress and data when it’s available so it’s a very good start in gaining traction with potential commercial partners.”

Having this level of commercial activity so early in a project helps keep research on track and relevant to industry.

“Industrial research is an essential part of the project so we need to constantly talk with industry partners who may want to license or buy the technology.” said Williams. We need to continually validate what we’re doing with the market.”

Home-grown talent

The potential for Irish researchers to develop projects that disrupt and revolutionise an industry is high, adds Vivienne. “The quality of the research is so important; without good-quality research, we can’t come up with a good-quality product. To be blunt, we wouldn’t have applied for DTIF if we didn’t think Irish researchers could produce the results we need. Ireland really punches above its weight in terms of innovation; we’ve really become known for it now.”

 

For more information and call dates for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund visit the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website.

Industry Bulletin – Automotive – Impact of Covid-19 on automotive technologies

 

Jens Altmann, Market Advisor, Automotive Industry, Enterprise Ireland Germany interviewed Robert Metzger CEO and publisher at eMove360°, a trade fair and community platform for Mobility 4.0 – electric – connected – autonomous in Munich.

eMove360° Europe is already now world’s biggest B2B trade fair for electric mobility and connected & autonomous driving.

The video interview discusses the effects of the current Covid-19 situation on new technologies, forecasts on the industry and alternative ways of connecting with stakeholder in the market.

  • Effects of Covid-19 on technological development in the automotive industry
  • Influence on regulations and Electromobility  and its related supply chain
  • How to counteract current contact restrictions e.g. alternatives for physical trade shows

 

Offshore Wind Webinar – Global Market update and Covid-19 Assessment

In the second of its Offshore Wind Webinar series, Enterprise Irelands Offshore Wind Cluster are joined by the Renewables Consulting Group which provides an update on the global offshore wind market outlook and assess the implications of Covid-19 on the industry.

Dr. Lee Clarke and Sebastian Rae present detailed analysis from RCG’s recently published Global Offshore Wind Annual Report and focus on the following:

  • Provide an overview of the industry’s evolution
  • Outline key development hotspots
  • Highlight several markets of interest to Irish companies in the space
  • Assess the implications of Covid-19 on the offshore wind industry and supply chain

 

UK BPO & IT

Market Watch Industry Bulletin – BPO & IT

UK BPO & IT_Market Watch

See the webinar here.

Customer engagement is critical during the Covid-19 pandemic, as organisations across every industry look to connect, engage, reassure, and supply their customer base.

In this time of uncertainty and disruption, Irish BPO and IT companies have demonstrated impressive flexibility in providing their outsourced services to ensure international companies can overcome these engagement challenges from a remote setting and provide a positive customer experience.

Following Enterprise Ireland’s recent Industry Bulletin which looked at developments across the world affecting Irish BPO and IT Services companies, this edition of our Market Watch series focuses on the UK region and a key end-market for many Irish companies; the UK energy sector.

This webinar reflects on the

  • Immediate impact of Covid-19 on the UK Energy sector
  • Challenges for energy retailers and their customers
  • Future opportunities in the sector for outsourced service providers to develop new and stronger partnerships with energy retailers in the UK.

 

See the webinar here.

Panellists:

David Corcoran, Senior Market Advisor, Enterprise Ireland UK

Peter Haigh, former Managing Director of Bristol Energy, CEO of ELEXON, and Director of Business Retail at E.ON.

 

The Enterprise Ireland MENA Podcast – an overview of the region

Each month the Enterprise Ireland MENA Podcast will discuss the opportunities for winning business across the Middle East and North Africa.

The series will include insights from leading industry figures, in-depth analysis on emerging market trends as well as helpful advice on how best to succeed across the MENA region. Click below for the podcast from May 21st.

Panellists:

Mike Hogan, Regional Manager Enterprise Ireland, MENA

Jack Larkin, Trade Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland MENA

Clean Air

Novaerus clean air technology helping to fight the spread of Covid-19

As focus falls on airborne spread of virus, independent research suggests Irish innovation can help solve a major problem for healthcare and other sectors

One of the many ways our lives have changed during the spring of 2020 has been the way we communicate. New words, phrases and expressions have entered our vocabulary, from acronyms like WFH and PPE to the rallying cry ‘Stay home’.

The one we’ll remember the most, however, the one most likely to linger in our lexicon is the term ‘social distancing’. Years from now, in a bar in Belfast or a restaurant in Rathmines, we will probably still be acutely aware of the social distance between ourselves and the next person.

The huge emphasis on social distancing – and other rules including hand washing – underline that the focus on limiting the spread of Covid-19 has up to now been about avoiding human contact. Keep your distance – no touching.

While steering clear of potentially contaminated people and surfaces remains the focus, there is increasing awareness of the ‘aerosol’ or airborne spread of the virus that comes from dried particles dispersing over long distances and remaining suspended in the air.

 

Clean air vital to prevent virus spread

Many health authorities are now aware that these viral particles can circulate for long periods and can cause infection when inhaled. For hospitals, care homes, schools, factories and other buildings where large numbers of people gather indoors, clean air is now vital to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

This is where Novaerus comes into the picture. One of the many Irish tech companies helping the world to fight the virus, this Dublin-based firm specialises in manufacturing medical-grade clean air solutions for the healthcare and other sectors.

Part of the WellAir company, Novaerus has just announced successful independent test results for its most powerful solution, the Defend1050. Significantly, this patented, portable air disinfection device has been proven to reduce MS2 Bacteriophage (a surrogate for Covid-19) by 99.99% in just 15 minutes.

Novaerus patented plasma technology

Designed for continuous, rapid air cleaning in large spaces, especially where there is a high risk of infection, the Defend 1050 uses Novaerus’ patented, ultra-low energy plasma technology to eliminate airborne viruses and vastly reduce the risk of disease.

“Infection can be transmitted on air currents over distances, by direct and indirect contact, or by a combination of all three routes,” says Dr Felipe Soberon, Chief Technology Officer at WellAir.

“Independent tests prove that the Defend 1050 is ideal for mitigating the risk of airborne dissemination of infection and contamination of surfaces and hands by reducing the bioburden in the air.” says Soberon.

The Defend 1050 was independently tested by US-based Aerosol Research and Engineering (ARE) Laboratories. Placed in a sealed Bioaerosol Test Chamber with aerosolized MS2 bacteriophage, the device took just 15 minutes to reduce the MS2 bacteriophage by 99.99%.

“The methods used by labs like Aerosol Research and Engineering are informed by consensus standards and established by international bodies and scientists,” says Dr Kevin Devlin, CEO at WellAir. “We’re confident that the tests are indicative of how effective the Defend 1050 can be when removing viruses, like coronavirus, from the air.”

The efficiency of the Defend 1050 has been recognised by Chinese health authorities and registered on China’s official platform for disinfection products. Novaerus also recently donated several air dis-infection devices including Defend 1050 models to two hospitals in Wuhan, China, to help them reinforce their virus protection protocols.

Many hospitals worldwide have installed Novaerus technology to help reduce the transmission of Covid-19 among both staff and patients. The Irish technology is also being used in other healthcare facilities, senior living facilities, schools, and other buildings.

 

Internationally recognised innovation

The patented plasma technology used in Novaerus products was invented in 2006. Clinical trials began in Europe in 2008 and a radical upgrade of the technology was completed in 2011. With the help of Enterprise Ireland, the company expanded into the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and its products are now deployed in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Novaerus is part of WellAir, an Irish company on a mission to reduce indoor airborne pollutants to create living, working, and healing spaces that foster rather than detract from human health, productivity, and wellbeing.

Data on mobile phone

How Exertis is using blockchain to transform global tech supply chains

The global supply chains for technology products like smartphones and laptop computers are now almost as complex as the products themselves.

A typical smartphone, for example, is made up of components and materials sourced from up to a dozen suppliers on multiple continents, which are shipped to a manufacturer for final assembly before being sent onwards to distributors, retailers and ultimately sold to consumers.

This presents two major problems for manufacturers and others involved in the chain – visibility and provenance. A new project led by Dublin-based Exertis Supply Chain Services, with funding from Ireland’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), is aimed at solving both of them.

A subsidiary of DCC, Exertis Supply Chain Services is a leader in materials supply chain design and operation. “Our focus is on technology and we provide global supply chain capability for the Exertis group and clients across the globe,” says Brian Cassidy, Head of IT and Director responsible for data protection with the company. “We are also a centre of excellence within the group for the use of blockchain technology.”

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a €500 million fund run by Ireland’s Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, as part of the National Development Plan under Project Ireland 2040. It is administered by Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency. An example of the country’s strong focus on developing some of the world’s most innovative companies, the initiative funds collaborations between research facilities and ambitious companies to develop innovative technologies that change the world in which we live.

 

Exertis solves visibility problems in the supply chain

The objective of Exertis’s DTIF-supported project, which also involves Dublin-based technology company Sonalake and the CeADAR Technology Centre located at University College Dublin, is to develop a blockchain-based platform, which will transform the technology product supply chain.

“The two problems we are focusing on is the need for end-to-end visibility of products and components along the supply chain and the need to prove the authenticity of products once they reach the market,” says Cassidy.

“We are using the blockchain to provide a peer-to-peer platform for authenticating provenance and we are providing visibility across the supply chain where multiple partners and a high volume of products are involved.”

The current lack of visibility and difficulty with provenance result in a number of issues. “In terms of visibility, for any participant in the supply chain it is very difficult to know what is selling and what is not,” says Cassidy.

This lack of visibility leads to problems with availability. “Typically, the retailer might know what the distributor has in stock but won’t know what the manufacturer has. Visibility is very much limited to one point up or down in the chain. A manufacturer may not know how much product distributors or retailers have because they usually don’t share that information.”

 

Proving Authenticity

Provenance is another issue. “When the item does arrive at the retailer, proving its authenticity can be a really interesting challenge. If a fake product comes into a customer’s hands, a manufacturer wants to be able to see how it got there.”

 

Sharing information dynamically

The Exertis project is highly innovative in that it will provide an open platform for multiple users in multiple supply chains, with each participant being able to decide which other members of the chain they wish to share information with. Furthermore, it will allow them to share selected pieces of information with selected participants.

Once the data gets put on the blockchain it is immutable and cannot be deleted. “It is encrypted and decrypted at a granular level,” Cassidy adds. “A retailer might want to put a transaction on the platform but may not want competitors to know anything about it, whereas they do want the distributor and manufacturer to know. However, they may not be able to share with the manufacturer certain details such as the price they paid for it or what they sold it for. They can decrypt different parts of that dataset for different partners and their ERP system will be able to dynamically decide what information to share and who to share it with.”

Manufacturers will be able to see what is selling and how much product is in the channel in real time. This is important for planning manufacturing output, as well as for managing warranty liabilities. “Manufacturers will usually know how many units were sold, but don’t know exactly when. They need to know that for when the warranty starts. This platform will address that issue. It provides a place where all participants in the chain can contribute, but everyone controls their own data.”

Initial work on the project, began in 2018, with the DTIF-supported three-year project beginning in earnest in August 2019. “The DTIF funding has accelerated this project significantly and facilitated our collaboration with CeADAR and Sonalake. At Exertis, we have looked across our business and identified several exciting use cases, which we expect to roll out in several areas in the coming years”.

 

For more information and call dates for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund visit the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website.

Evolve UK Podcast thumbnail Water Sector

Covid-19 impacts on the UK Water Sector

Enterprise Ireland UK is joined by experts from the UK Water Sector to discuss the impacts of Covid-19, progress with AMP 7, and the opportunities that are emerging for supply chain companies. Listen below to the podcast from May 14th.

If using Internet Explorer click here to listen to the podcast.

Panelists: Darragh Cotter, Enterprise Ireland UK, Shaun Stevens, EPS Water, Stephen Kennedy, MWH Treatment,, David Elliott, Indepen

Cubic Telecom car image

Cubic Telecom’s swift response to Covid-19 strengthens its customer relationships

When the novel coronavirus first emerged, Cubic Telecom acted fast to protect its staff and cement its customer relationships. Those moves are paying dividends now.

The company provides global mobility solutions for IoT, automotive and mobile device companies around the world, from Germany’s Volkswagen Group to US satellite communications company Kymeta.

The software innovator, which has received funding from Enterprise Ireland, today employs 150 people. It experienced particularly fast growth last year and was recruiting new team members right up until January, when the first inklings of the Covid-19 crisis emerged. When it did, the company acted swiftly.

“The senior team was very focused on getting as much information in as possible early in the Covid-19 life stage. There was a focus on human impact and economic impact. We did some very detailed analysis on the impact to the company and took the right amount of time to assess the steps that needed to be taken to ensure the sustainability of the company. Once this was done the teams could be reassured and day to day work could continue as before,” says Richard Springer, the company’s Director of Commercial Strategy.

“People have come first and this has been led from CEO level down. There have been cost reductions and tighter control of the financials but at the same time, we are still driving the business forward to make sure we come out of this period in a strong position.”

As a technology company, it helped that remote working and the use of tools such as MS Teams and Zoom were already well established in the company.

Once the scale of the crisis was assessed, all staff members were asked to work from home, with some international staff flying home to their native countries to work from there. The use of video and teleconferencing has ensured productivity has been maintained ever since.

“As restrictions started coming into place, very open communication with employees was maintained and, in the background, extensive modelling work done by looking at previous events, including Spanish Flu to SARS and MERS, in order to create very good future forecasting and cash management,” explains Springer.

Decision making was quick and efficient at the top, with the senior team participating in daily catch-ups every morning. What were previously weekly catch-ups were turned into reviews of what was happening in key markets worldwide, as well as planning for the recoveries in each.

The key to successfully managing the crisis for the company so far has been to focus on ensuring there was “over communication” with both staff and customers as both cohorts adjusted to remote working.

“That meant giving people more information, communicating at a more personal level about how their family is, for example, and ensuring there was more collaboration,” says Springer, who says that acknowledging the ‘human’ side of current events is vital. “It’s about making sure the team is okay and that everyone knows what is happening.”

Being empathetic and working to safeguard employees’ physical and mental health was paramount too, with new programmes in areas such as yoga and mindfulness introduced for staff.

 

Adapting to customers’ needs

Cubic Telecom has customers all over the world, which means travel has always been a staple part of its customer relationship management.  Business development strategies traditionally include a presence at major international trade shows, such as CES in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with vital support provided by Enterprise Ireland.

With such events no longer taking place, the company quickly predicted that customer relationships would need to be maintained and developed remotely too.

“We spent the first few weeks of the lockdown focusing on customer relationships, talking to existing customers,” he says.

While nothing replaces face to face meetings, he says, by again focusing on the human side of the situation, and encouraging collaboration, these relationships are successfully being strengthened remotely.

Although a pandemic is never welcome, the fact that Cubic Telecom is by now so well recognised in its sectors internationally helps. “We are at a point where a lot of our relationships are very well established. As a business we are also still small enough to move fast, but big enough to be recognised in the industry as a player,” he explains.

 

International recognition

Enterprise Ireland’s backing from its earliest days led to Cubic Telecom unlocking a series of investments as it grew, including from major industry players such as Audi and Qualcomm, among others. More recent investment has come from long term backer ACT Venture Capital and the European Investment Bank.

The connected intelligence company is now acknowledged as a pioneer in eSIM technologies and advanced data analytics, offering mobility solutions for IoT, automotive and mobile device companies across the globe.

It has mobile operator partnerships in more than 190 countries, for example. One of the most recent, with Etisalat, a UAE telecoms company, was announced at an Enterprise Ireland trade mission to the Middle East.

While it is not business as usual for the company right now – too much outside its walls have changed – it is business as ‘best as possible’.

“Our employees are well informed about what is going on, our business is running as it was previously and supply chains are open and running,” he says.

As a supplier, it is critical to understand that “everyone is experiencing different impacts to their business,” he advises.

“It does not matter what size that business is, during this time everyone could be under pressure. That is the key when dealing with any business during this time. There needs to be a collaborative approach in how to get through the next months together and as much sharing of impacts, plans and information as possible to help each other.”