A little secret that we know at Semco is that machining graphite is both an art and a science. Graphite machining is a nuanced, complex process that involves collaboration between the client, our engineers and shop floor employees, and our state-of-the-art machines. As much as we thought we had our graphite machining down to a science, the coronavirus has caused us to take stock of and recalibrate some basic aspects of how we run our shop. We produce graphite components for several critical industries, thus we began working under two imperatives during this pandemic: keep up our production and, most importantly, protect our workforce and clients while doing so. Because of the COVID pandemic, measures to ensure best practices when it comes to air quality, social distancing, and disinfecting the work stations have become more critical than ever.
Semco has long been working on maintaining great air quality in the building. Machining graphite is a dry process that produces graphite dust. While the majority of the graphite machining shops around the country are quite messy affairs, our focus from the beginning has been on keeping the cleanest graphite machining shop. Our state-of-the-art air circulation system, (including a massive dust collector with 60 filters) is capable of recirculation and cleaning the air of particulates for the whole building up to 8 times in a hour. Each working station has air ducts that filter the air, keeping the work space clean of any graphite dust. In a recent air quality audit, the air in our shop was determined to contain particulate at levels below what the state designates as good air quality for outdoor spaces. Our shop floor employees benefit every day from this extraordinary system, and we are proud of that.
The graphite particulate is one thing, but this coronavirus is a whole different ball game. With the virus being so aggressive, we needed to do even more to protect our employees. Social distancing measures were put in place very early on. Office personnel began working remotely and taking advantage of the capability to access cloud servers remotely. Measures for the shop personnel were implemented to maintain at least 6 feet of separation between workers, as per the national guidelines. It was a bit awkward at first, but everyone working in the building has adjusted quickly to keeping at least that safe distance while working at their graphite machining duties.
Since air does circulate in the building, we made sure to address not only particulate contamination but also the presence of harmful microbes in the air. The answer for our company has been ozone machines, which purify air by killing bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. Semco has bought and installed 6 ozone machines, 1 for the front office and 5 for the shop floor. While it is not recommended to run these machines during active hours, we have implemented schedules at night for the machines to run, which has further improved the air quality in our shop and offices.
Disinfecting work spaces is another key component of our safety plan for employees. As anyone that has been to a grocery store lately knows, disinfectants like bleach have been difficult to come by. We have, however, managed to provide each workstation with plentiful isopropyl alcohol so that the workstations can be cleaned and disinfected regularly. At the end of each day, our manatinance crew does the same, disinfecting surfaces that are exposed to regular touching.
These are just a few of the measures we have implemented to protect our employees and clients during these challenging times. Together we will pull through.