COVID-19 has been a wake-up call that has rung around the world.
Stealthy, contagious and unprecedented, this virus has re-taught us some lessons that we had forgotten about, such as putting others before us — and what should've already been an obvious one — covering our mouth when we sneeze and washing our hands for at least 20 seconds.
This has also presented an opportunity for everyone to honor the tireless people who are constantly working on the frontline such as doctors, nurses, essential supply workers, and sanitary workers.
While COVID-19 has pushed them to the limit, let us not forget that they are the lubricants that grease the wheels of our societies so that we can function smoothly.
But What is COVID-19's Impact On the Trenchless Sector?
Trenchless technology sectors dealing with utility installation and trenchless rehabilitation may experience delays in their current and upcoming projects.
The impact on the manufacturing sector has caused a disruption in the supply chain leading to delays in material procurement.
The social distancing parameter needed to fight this virus has also led to contractors having to lay off workers, at least for a short duration until the pandemic subsides.
This will require rescheduling the projects by coordinating with project owners about the delay in timelines and milestones.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has signified infrastructure to be a critical essential business. Maintenance of infrastructure including utility pipelines is critical during this time.
Public Safety Canada has also designated critical infrastructure workers as essential services. Utility companies have always had a track record of being able to quickly adapt to emergency situations such as the one we are facing right now.
However; every emergency brings with it a separate set of challenges. Since this is a health emergency, the unique challenge faced by all essential services is the social distancing required to prevent the virus from spreading.
In such circumstances, to keep the essential utility services such as water, sewer, gas and electricity flowing uninterrupted is indeed an unprecedented challenge.
Potential Impact on Key Factors
Most utility companies stock spare parts, critical components, and equipment for emergencies. However, the break in the manufacturing sector will lead to shortages, especially since this is worldwide.
Resource sharing during this time could be a good way to keep things running smoothly until the manufacturing sector gets back on track.
Since these are essential services that should be dependable and consistent, companies should enhance their disaster management capabilities. The unique situation we are facing now will require coordination among utility companies by resource sharing and mutual assistance.
The utility industry is highly dependent on workers, unlike many other industries that can be run remotely. As this situation is global, the lack of workers can become a major issue in running things smoothly.
Flexibility and a considerate work environment is key to making use of the available workforce without compromising their health. Where it is possible to automate using available technology, the same should be adapted to reduce interaction between persons.
Owing to the scare, social distancing has forced many companies to allow their workers to access the server from their homes.
This raises the question of cybersecurity as workers will have to be given access to core systems, making the system susceptible to hacking and phishing attacks. The advances made in the field of cybersecurity allow a smooth transition to secure work platforms within days, allowing your company to quickly strengthen your remote access management procedure.
Facing an Unprecedented Challenge the Best Possible Way
It is indeed easier said than done as utility industry executives grapple with and try to find effective solutions to a very difficult situation. The situation calls for significant changes to their current operating models with a reduced workforce, shortage of critical components and the ever-present risk of cyber-theft due to remote work.
All of this while ensuring that millions of consumers including hospitals, and nursing homes, get their supply of water, gas and electricity uninterrupted, 24 hours a day.
Doing Our Part
As a part of the utility sector, every worker should be aware of the necessary precautions that should be taken to prevent getting infected and infecting others.
Here are a few helpful points to follow whether working from home, in the office or on-site.
- Wash hands frequently and at least for 20 seconds each time after returning home, and before every meal.
- Avoid touching your face entirely.
- Avoid shaking hands with anyone or hugging anyone.
- Limit sharing things such as pens and staplers
- Disinfect your work station regularly.
- Sneeze into your elbow or in tissue and do not keep the tissue lying about.
- Maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from colleagues and the public in general.
- Avoid travel unless necessary.
- If in doubt that you have the virus, visit a doctor and quarantine yourself.
- Help someone in need such as an elderly or handicapped neighbor to get their essential supplies.