Scott Technology has had to let go of 20 per cent of its global workforce, including 15 jobs in Dunedin, as a result of Covid-19 impacts.
The company announced to the NZX yesterday it was continuing to recover after the April Alert Level 4 lockdown halted work here.
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It had gone through a restructure that cut about 150 jobs from the business as it moved to a recovery phase, chief executive John Kippenberger said.
“Now it’s really about getting on with what we call a ‘fast start’, which was how do you get best prepared through the lockdown as you can to make sure the operations and the teams — not only in New Zealand but other parts of the world — come out of the pandemic quickly and get activated quickly.”
The job losses were in a mix of departments across Scott.
“What we did try and do was to say ‘what are the areas that are absolutely central to the business going forward’ and again being able to grow the business into the future.
“So, what are some of those core skill sets you need to protect with everything you can, and then what are the other areas that could have been reduced, and those are the areas that we looked at.
“Essentially, it did cover a number of areas from right throughout the supply chain of Scott in New Zealand.”
Of the 45 jobs, 15 were from Dunedin.
“Dunedin is a big part of the New Zealand operation so obviously, proportionately it played its part in that reduction, for sure.”
Scott announced progress on a number of projects around the world and a “growing list of inquiries” for its automation and robotic solutions.
Mr Kippenberger said Scott’s dealings around the world showed how its four different key markets were being affected by Covid-19.
While its China, Australia and New Zealand businesses were going strongly, in North America and Europe things were more “subdued”.
“I think the interesting thing is China went into the pandemic earlier than any other parts of the world. Our China business has come out very strongly.
“That’s with the big blue-chip global brands of appliances investing in automation for new demand in the white-goods sector. That’s been positive for our business.”
Scott had recommenced a project to get a large appliance automation line ready at Bosch in China.
“Obviously that got put on ice and as soon as the situation started to open up again, our team mobilised with the Bosch team and we’ve been able to commission that piece of equipment.
“That sort of thing is very important for Scott. Where we’ve put all the time and energy and cost and investment into the project, we need to get it commissioned for the customer but also for the Scott return,” he said.
In Western Australia, where there was good demand and pricing on iron ore, Scott reached an important milestone on its Rio Tinto contract to build and design an automated mine laboratory for the Koodaideri Iron Ore project in the Pilbara region.
“That was an interesting scenario because we were deep into the design when the lockdown happened and therefore we needed to find a way to work outside of the big design offices,” Mr Kippenberger said.
“Our teams did a really good job of connecting and sharing ideas and information from their homes wherever they were in New Zealand and Australia and we continued to push ahead with good progress on that project.”
Mr Kippenberger said he was “very keen” to see a transtasman bubble happen.
“It’s not just about projects … it’s about getting around the table physically.
“You can do a lot of Zoom but I do believe … when you’re in the room with your executives or teams in another country, that is a different proposition in terms of thinking up ideas for business and thinking through issues and problem-solving.”
Scott also announced it had begun using augmented reality [AR] technology to assist engineers working on equipment in a different part of the world.
“We’ll have engineers in Christchurch using AR … to support engineers in America on a large project,” Mr Kippenberger said.
“The teams have accessed technology so they can actually be looking through the eyes of the local engineer in America and be on the headset real-time talking through the aspects of that equipment.”
The company said it expected Covid-19 to have a “material impact” on its financial year results for the year ending August 31.
But it said revenue was expected to recover as restrictions were lifted and businesses restarted projects and capital expenditure.
– Otago Daily Times