YKK, a global leader in the manufacture of zippers and other fastening products, has been working hard alongside its communities across the EMEA region to help stop the spread of Covid-19 by helping to supply components to produce various items of personal protective equipment.
The global organisation has been utilising the ‘Cycle of Goodness’ philosophies “no one prospers without rendering benefit to others” of its founder, Tadao Yoshida, by placing significant importance on combining its company activity alongside “fairness” towards not only its own staff, by ensuring they are looked after, but by supporting its customers and local communities within the vital PPE supply chain.
Yoshida believed that “using ingenuity and inventiveness” within YKK’s business activities not only “create new value” but also leads to the “prosperity of clients and business partners” so that everyone involved can make their own contribution to society, which is so vital during this pandemic.
The exceptional situation created by the pandemic has forced YKK to think differently to continue to innovate and adapt, placing a priority on health and safety, as well as managing the continuity of its business by ensuring it stays in contact with its customers and employees.
Communication is at the heart of YKK’s approach to the coronavirus outbreak, with each site creating its own Covid-19 internal task force to allow the company to adapt resourcefully and quickly to the challenges being caused by the pandemic.
In the UK, YKK has utilised these daily briefings to ensure regular communication with head office, its staff who are working from home and with the company’s UK factory in Runcorn, which has been producing critical fastenings for isolation/containment units, medical equipment, PPE, mattress protection and ventilator parts.
YKK’s fastening products, including zippers, hook and loop and snap and buttons, can be found in numerous medical products and healthcare facility equipment around the world, and the European factories have been instrumental in producing essential products for various social care and healthcare workers.
Each factory has also been quick to adapt to the pandemic, with YKK’s local health and safety departments introducing social distancing rules and hygiene protocols to protect employees, as well as make them feel confident that they are working in a safe environment.
New procedures include providing hand sanitiser and dispensers, gloves and face masks, introducing hygiene protocols to ensure staff wash their hands and replace face masks regularly, as well as to adopt a “clean your workplace before and after you finish work” approach. In addition, there has been increased cleaning of facilities and the installation of non-contact thermometers.
YKK notes that it wouldn’t be able to complete any of its orders for essential goods without the dedication of its staff, with the human connection particularly important to the business to maintain quality, innovation and motivation. In France, they are doing weekly catch-up meetings to ensure that everyone is in good health during these uncertain times. This is a feature at a number of sites.
Being active and present in the community has also been a huge part of YKK’s coronavirus response, they are not only producing components for PPE, but also donating to local causes. In Italy, YKK has been supporting its local community through donations to the hospital near its factory, which has been temporarily closed due to the pandemic, as well as with smaller charities that it has worked with over the years, as “the Cycle of Goodness shows that companies survive through coexistence and mutual respect”.
In France, YKK has been working with local companies making reusable masks and visors to face the pandemic, which in turn saw them receiving hydroalcoholic gel as thanks for contributing to the maintenance of the medical sector, as YKK has been producing zippers for the industry. Meanwhile in Spain, YKK has been participating with business platforms created to gather suppliers of components to produce sanitary garments, mainly masks and gowns, to tackle the coronavirus crisis in the country. In Italy, YKK helps to manufacture protective clothing with functional fastening products.
When it comes to looking to the future, businesses across the EMEA region all agree that virtual tools are essential, with more investment probably needed to ensure efficiency in the workplace and supply chain. There is also a drive for more innovation and creativeness to come out of this pandemic, to allow production to become more agile and to reinforce YKK’s strong sustainability practices.