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DIOSNA's Henrik Oevermann unfazed by the challenges of lockdown

How a mixing machine manufacturer serving the baking industry made a seamless transition of adaptation to ensure safety and maintenance of supply when the pandemic hit.

As German industry locked down in response to coronavirus the CEO of DIOSNA Dierks & Söhne GmbH shared his thoughts. Now, as the faint light at the end of a tunnel of unknown length starts to grow in brightness, he provides an update on his company’s constructive response, which demonstrates the importance of imagination and a positive attitude in the event of dramatic unforeseen circumstances.

When CEO Henrik Oevermann was interviewed in April there were new announcements being made and measures being introduced at an alarming rate to keep the infection curve as flat as possible. Over the last week or so, however, there have been signs that the pandemic is starting to wane in Germany and therefore there has been an inclination towards relaxing some of its more extreme restrictions.

Oevermann is optimistic: "All our actions to protect our employees, customers and partners were already very well thought out. The success of the last few weeks confirms that we have made the right decisions. This is clearly confirmed by the positive feedback from our customers. And this is exactly what every person in a crisis situation needs, a strong and responsible partner on whom they can rely."

Diosna's employees know that everything has been done to protect them. "They appreciate this and are reacting very responsibly to the loosening by the Federal Government, thus keeping the risk of infection as low as possible. I am very proud of our team."

As a response to uncertainty among its customers and employees DIOSNA has drawn on its 135 years' ('MADE IN GERMANY') manufacturing experience, which has enabled it to continue its day-to-day production operations almost without restriction.

DIOSNA's flat hierarchies have made it possible to act very quickly to ensure continued production. "We benefit from the fact that we were able to separate many work areas, that our employees work partly in their home office and that we support our customers reliably as usual via remote maintenance and our great network."

So far, there have been only a few bottlenecks on the part of suppliers, so machine production and spare parts deliveries are running nearly according to plan.

"As far as deliveries are concerned, there are, of course, factors over which we have no influence. These include, among other things, the legal regulations fixed by the various governments and measures taken by transport companies to enable deliveries to continue, even under difficult conditions. This undoubtedly affects air traffic, which has been very restricted, and as a result and as expected, transport costs have increased, in some cases massively." The company checks each delivery individually to find the cheapest and most reliable shipping option for its customers.

"Whenever there are new regulations from the authorities that have a direct or indirect impact on our daily work, we discuss internally what the consequences are for us," the CEO continued. "We have regular crisis meetings in the context of the current situation anyway. Our motto is always action instead of reaction. Any knowledge gained are then translated into the necessary work instructions and communicated accordingly to our employees and customers."

Oevermann remarked in April that the eagerness of Germans to organise and regulate is sometimes mocked by foreigners, but those are the very skills that are most required in situations like the one in which we find ourselves. His advice was to keep calm, think regionally, shop at the local bakery and grocer and actively contribute to slow down the increasing number of infections as much as possible in order to keep the respective health system functioning.

Since his earlier comments the infection curve has indeed flattened in Germany and industry may soon be moving again. Many shops in Germany have been permitted to reopen along with car dealerships and commercial spaces of less than 800 square metres. However, as the country takes its first steps towards getting its economy back on track, Angela Merkel, who is keen to avoid a rekindling of the pandemic, warned that parts of Germany may be lifting the coronavirus lockdown too quickly. Studies indicating a slight resurgence in infections supports this caution. Business will not be back to normal quite yet, but it is moving in the right direction.

"We are continuously improving our processes and the insights we have gained in this situation are naturally also incorporated into our plans for the future," said Oevermann. "Digitalization will become more and more important and we are prepared for this. Changes can be expected in terms of spatial flexibility, where circumstances permit. This has already been clearly demonstrated in the area of mobile working. No one can say how long this situation will continue or whether and what new challenges will be faced in the coming years. But one thing is certain, the new normality will be another."