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Donna Black

Guy Frankland

How Valeport has adapted to coronavirus to continue supporting our customers

Overnight the world changed.

Schools closed, events were cancelled and staying safe meant keeping our distance. Coronavirus has meant different challenges for different organisations. For Valeport, the goal has been to keep its people safe, while continuing to support its customers.

“None of us has ever experienced anything like this. But very quickly we made key decisions to protect our staff. And we’ve managed to do that while keeping up the level of customer service we are known for. Our customers can continue to buy products and return instruments for servicing or repair the same as they always have,” explains Jeremy Law, Valeport’s Operations Manager.

Keeping in touch while keeping apart

One of the first changes was introducing working from home for staff members who could work remotely.

Valeport’s Marketing Manager Guy Frankland is one of those working from home. He says: “We are a close team at Valeport, so keeping in touch has been important and video meetings via Zoom are now the norm.

“For parents like me, juggling work and family life brings its own challenges. My young daughter has made a guest appearance in many of my Zoom meetings, which brightens everyone’s days. I think we’ve all enjoyed this chance to get a glimpse into each other’s lives beyond the office.

“Valeport is a friendly firm and we have always looked out for each other, but these days when we all have extra worries due to coronavirus; it makes you appreciate that camaraderie even more.”

Valeport’s sales team has also been keeping in touch with clients and distributors. Neal Adamson, Valeport’s Sales Manager explains: “I had been planning to visit various distributors and clients overseas but those visits have been put on hold. Instead, I’ve been keeping in contact via Zoom calls and WhatsApp to find out how customers are.

“I’ve been speaking to customers all over the world, and although different countries are tackling coronavirus in slightly different ways, we all have the same worries and concerns. I’ve noticed that conversations with customers and distributors are longer now and probably less formal than they used to be. There is a sense that we are all in this together.”

Safety on site ensures productivity remains high

As a manufacturing business, there are colleagues who need to be on site to work and several changes have been introduced to keep them safe.

“The temperature of all staff is checked each day. Cleaning has also been stepped up and we have a regular rota where tools, handles, kick plates, printers and work benches are cleaned thoroughly several times each day. Colleagues are asked to wash their hands regularly and new hand sanitising stations have been set up,” says Jeremy Law.

Social distancing has also been an important focus. “We are fortunate that we have a large purpose-built site here in Totnes, so we had the ability to be flexible with our space to introduce the social distancing measures that are required to keep us all safe at the moment,” adds Jeremy Law.

On the assembly floor, where Valeport’s precision instruments are manufactured, some rooms have been repurposed and the space reconfigured to ensure that everyone is working at least three metres apart, in excess of the two metres currently required under the UK’s social distancing recommendations.

“We have been able to continue to operate all of the machines we need to produce our instruments safely,” says Jeremy Law. “This means that we can meet customer orders and are able to ship them on or before their required date. We are also manufacturing instruments to hold in stock for immediate shipping as required.”

For employees working on site, break times have been staggered and no more than five colleagues can use the canteen at one time. Colleagues have also been asked not to share mugs, plates and cutlery.

“It seems odd seeing colleagues sitting alone at tables in our canteen. We are a friendly and sociable team here, so it is a very visual reminder of how things have changed since coronavirus hit,” says Jeremy Law.

“There is no doubt about it, this is a challenging time for everyone. All of our managers had mental health training last year, so we’re looking out for our teams and making sure we can offer extra support if anyone needs it.”

Customer service remains unchanged

Valeport is known for its generous service warranty and the servicing and repair team have continued to support customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Valeport’s Head of Customer Service Pete Adams explains: “When a customer phones us to book in a service or repair, they will notice no difference. Some of our support team are working remotely, so they may take the calls at home, but customers can expect the same friendly service as always. Our team is available to repair, service and calibrate the full spectrum of Valeport instruments.”

On-site, every second work bench in the servicing and repair department has been left clear to allow for social distancing and team members are wearing gloves. “Our team members work individually on the instruments they are servicing or repairing, so social distancing has been easy to put in place,” adds Pete Adams.

“We are able to carry out all of our usual repairs, servicing and calibration and are working to a turn-around time of two weeks, which is the same as before coronavirus. If a customer has an urgent request, we can manage that too. In one case we were able to return an instrument to a customer on the same day it arrived.

“While Valeport has made some adjustments to keep its people safe during the coronavirus pandemic, from our customer’s point of view they shouldn’t notice any difference. There has been no decrease in productivity or customer service. Whether a customer wants to book in a regular service, discuss a repair or buy a new product, Valeport is able to deliver.”

Services and Calibrations