Meet the team: Lee Robinson – Managing Production During Uncertain Times

The last seven months have been challenging for us all in many ways, and when we reopened our sites after the national UK lockdown, we all had to adapt to the new ‘normal’. The way that we communicate with our customers, get our products to them and work alongside our colleagues has drastically changed. Lee Robinson, Production Manager at our largest site in Ilkeston, Derbyshire has been a key part of enforcing these changes among our production employees, so we caught up with him to find out more about his role and the challenges he has faced over the last few months.

My Experience:

I’ve been working at DTE since mid-2010 and have just recently celebrated my 10th anniversary. Before I joined DTE, I worked for another engineered timber supplier for three years. I was looking to get into the industry in my early 20s and spotted an advert for a trainee designer role, and the rest is history as they say.

Production Management:

As the Production Manager of the beams department in Ilkeston, I am responsible for the overall manufacture of all i-joists, posi-joists and floor cassettes and ensuring these arrive with our customers on time. We supply engineered floors across the whole of England and Wales, and as a result, the sheer scale of our production demands and the logistics of getting the products to customers keeps me very busy.  I work closely with the management team at the site to ensure our manufacturing levels meet customer needs, and this often involves recruiting and training new employees.

Before we returned to work back in May, we had put in place a number of strict safety and social distancing measures on-site, we call this our new ‘normal’. Meeting the unprecedented demand, we have faced since we returned to work has been a challenge for us all, especially production as we had to increase our manufacturing capacity and train new employees while keeping a safe distance from each other.

A Typical Day:

A normal day for me is usually a quick catch up first thing with my team of supervisors to find out if there are any issues in each team such as staff shortages or machinery problems. I run through the production KPIs from the previous day and ensure stock levels are where they need to be. I also check in with logistics to ensure all deliveries have left on time and are on track to be with our customers when they need to be.

I enjoy the variety of my role as no two days are ever the same. Even after 13 years of working in the industry, I’m always learning new things and helping to come up with new ideas and efficiency improvements on how we operate.

Our New ‘Normal’:

As a large manufacturing site, we had to ensure our strict social distancing measures could be adhered to at all times. This involved changing shift patterns and break times for nearly all of our workforce and enforcing new guidelines on wearing the relevant PPE such as visors and face coverings. We’ve had to strike a balance between trying to create as little disruption for our team as possible while ensuring that we limit any impact on our production schedule and lead times.

We’re fortunate that we have a supportive team on-site that have worked with us to navigate through these challenging times.