When an IRDG member company has an issue or query about which other members may have experience, ideas and/or expertise, we circulate that to the wider network on an anonymous basis via Members Question Time. We collate the feedback and make the final report available to those interested.  Here’s a sample of some more recent challenges shared.

APR 2021

“We are a company which offers reverse logistics/after sales support solutions. Within our warehouse space, we generally process 120,000 picks/annum across 2000 SKUs (stock keeping units). We are currently exploring the viability of automated storage and picking solutions and would like to connect with other members which have maybe explored or implemented the same. Any and all advice is very much appreciated”.

APR 2021

“We are a medical device company who designs, develops and manufactures innovative stent technologies. We would appreciate any members’ recommendations on Ethylene Oxide Sterilisation service providers in Ireland (apart from Steris, Tullamore) that have capacity to adopt a fully packaged stent delivery system into their sterilisation cycle?”

MAR 2021

“In light of the Single Use Plastic Directive (SUPD), as each market is adapting and implementing locally, we are keen to identify a partner or Consultancy that could make us aware of new legislation relative to cosmetics and packaging across European member states and possible impacts on the business. Not solely related to the SUPD as other Environmental, Sustainability claim requirements are coming through as well. Thank you. All advice and guidance is very much appreciated”

MAR 2021

“Have any members recommendations in relation to engaging the services to carry out a cyber security audit of all aspects of the companies IT infrastructure to identify any potential weak areas or areas where best industry practice has not been implemented and recommending how the Company can remedy same.”

MAR 2021

“We are a SAAS company who wish to become ISO certified. Have any members any recommendations in relation to a consultant to assist in this process from helping to identify the most appropriate ISO Certification to undertake to assisting in getting the Company certification ready.”

FEB 2021

“We are having real problems getting shipments into us at the moment from USA and UK. I was just wondering if others are experiencing the same problem & if there are any tips on how to make the import process smoother? Any info on couriers who are better at dealing with this new process? It’s very frustrating at the moment we have all the necessary site registration and Vet15 to import biologics. But in the past 2 weeks we have had 3 temperature sensitive boxes held for 10 days.”

FEB 2021

“We are a company of 110 staff members requiring an LMS (Learning Management System) that can report training records in a consolidated output for both internal & external training courses. Our customer base requires comprehensive training records to be provided before attending sites. The current LMS in place creates separate learning records for courses created within the software and external courses which have been uploaded. In addition the reports produced are just data dumps rather than in presentable format. Can your members recommend a strong LMS.”

JAN 2021

“We have recently implemented the use of “Smart Glasses” to our service Team. We would be interested in members feedback around using such equipment in the field or for in-house for training etc. If so, are they using the manufacturer’s software supplied with the glasses or have they developed their own? If a user, what do you see as the pros and cons of the equipment.”

JAN 2021

“We have a question as regards the wellbeing and engagement of our home-working staff post the Christmas and against the current pandemic lockdown, home-schooling, high hospitalisation backdrop…. have any of your members done or planned anything different or extra that has measurably helped wellbeing, engagement and resilience this year? I appreciate it’s early yet but might be one that people have good insight on already”

JAN 2021

“What dashboard software does your senior leadership team use to visually communicate key metrics in your business, e.g. Sales, Operations, Quality, Project Management etc.? We have a member company that is scaling the business and wishes to use a simple but effective visual dashboard tool which can be used by all members of the leadership team on a weekly/monthly basis. The company is seeking an off-the-shelf product, into which they could input their data and generate their displays. Please note the company does not use an ERP system at this time. Please share any names of software packages and recommendations you might have to help this company.”

DEC 2020

“We are a small member company, in the materials science space. Due to the expansion of our products into new customer applications, we need to transition our production capability from small scale to pilot level and hopefully on to larger scale. In particular we are looking to source access to:

  • Glass lined reactors – >1000L
  • Centrifugation – capable of similar scale
  • Furnaces
  • Drying Oven
  • Characterisation such as: particle size, surface area, elemental analysis, HPLC.”

NOV 2020

“We are a small design engineering company with a focus on R&D, innovation and IP intelligence. A key aspect of our business is using our engineering design experience and simulation tools to help them complete product engineering projects successfully. Many of our medical device clients regard all-plastic medical devices and instruments as their normal. However, a problem that can arise in highly-loaded product designs is ‘creep’. The associated stress relaxation poses leakage and functional risks. Suppliers of equipment that may have the ability to measure creep exist but are prohibitively expensive and may not deliver the necessary data required. As such, we are looking to cooperate/collaborate with any Irish R&D performers who know, or are interested in, this specific area.”

NOV 2020

“We are reviewing our compliance documentation to better position ourselves in response to tenders from potential customers (Healthcare, Life Science). Areas to produce new / update documentation are around IT Security, Incident Response, Data Privacy. Our cloud infrastructure to support our products, is located in Europe (UK, Ireland). We are a relatively small team, with limited knowledge in this area. We are wondering if other companies have had to face this and if yes how did they go about it.”

OCT 2020

“We are a small member company, in the materials science space. Due to the expansion of our products into new customer applications, we need to transition our production capability from a GLP to a GMP environment. We already have a QMS in place and are ISO certified. A key decision for us will be whether to invest in this ourselves or outsource the production. We are looking to connect with other members who may have gone through a similar transition and are willing to share their experience or alternatively receive recommendations of companies who may be able to help.”

OCT 2020

“We design, manufacture and market products (mainly textile, non-chemical or biocidal) for the European market. Within the EU we have varying feedback from Member State to Member State over packaging guidelines, requirements and legislation focusing solely on textile and non-hazardous materials. We were wondering if any other Irish companies were experiencing similar issues or confusion? How they bypassed this uncertainty or if they could refer or recommend any consultants or experts in this field to assist us with packaging requirements within individual member states?”

OCT 2020

“We are currently working on developing an ESG Strategy for our business. At this moment we are focused on the Environment but will need to create a cohesive ESG strategy to bring together diverse initiatives and policies and indeed to build on these.  One challenge on the Environmental side is setting out a greenhouse gas reduction plan, with real targets and clear actions. We are wondering if any companies in the network have relevant experience and advice in this field.”

SEP 2020

“We would be interested in getting connected with companies that have implemented automation, robotics, AI, or vison recognition systems within their production. We are interested in talking with them to get an overview about what they have learned on this journey”

SEP 2020

“Our business is established quite some time and involves both manufacturing and product development / R&D. The employees within our Product Development / R&D Centre are on an hourly paid structure. We appreciate most companies probably have such employees on a salaried structure. We are hoping however to share experiences, confidentially, with others employers who may have such highly skilled, creative staff on hourly structures.  We are particularly interested in benchmarking practices around recording and logging of working hours, breaks etc in line with legislation, which is quite restrictive for such a working environment. We would also be interested in talking to companies who may have transitioned their employees to a salaried structure”

AUG 2020

“We are evaluating the performance of rubber materials for a key client. As a result, we are specifically looking for 30-40 samples of natural rubber PLC-1X and RSS1. We are not looking for a long-term supply of these products but are looking for companies who may possibly have samples of these materials or who can put us in touch with potential suppliers of them.”

AUG 2020

“We have certified devices previously for Verizon and AT&T in the USA but found the process to be excessively long and problematic. We would love to connect with others who have had experience of a successful certification process, especially for CAT-M1/NB-IoT products for the USA/Canada with a view to reducing the risk of delays on the next product release.”

JUL 2020

“Some Employees are starting to ask us if we will consider a facility for working from home on a more ongoing basis and employees are also asking us about our plans on a return to the office environment. Prior to Covid we didn’t formally allow Employees to work from home. We would be interested to understand the following if you can put it to your members please.

  1. Are companies who hadn’t previously a work from home policy considering/implementing one on a more permanent basis going forward outside of Covid-19 accommodations?
  2. Also, companies where they have Employees working from home, have they put any dates on phased/full return to the office for Employees?”

JUL 2020

“We have recently started using Microsoft Dynamics 365 as our CRM. There is a steep learning curve involved and we are working with a third party to guide us. We would be delighted to connect with other IRDG members already using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for the purposes of exchanging learnings and experiences. If you or someone on your team would be willing to connect on this basis, we would be very grateful.”

JUL 2020

“From time to time we take on a single employee in another country and need to find a local firm there to handle payroll calculations, tax deductions etc. on our behalf. We have found good suppliers of these services in Germany and in Spain, but are failing to find one in the US. Can any member suggest a suitable US company or professional, preferably in the Boston area?”

JUL 2020

Does any member have experience with ultrasonic welding of plastic parts? We are looking for advice to determine process reliability, process parameters, acceptance criteria and test methods for finished parts. Alternatively does any member use a consultant/expert in this specific area that we could reach out to?

JUN 2020

We desperately require an electronic component (microcontroller) to enable us to ship some customer orders. This particular part seems to be in short supply world-wide so all our efforts and the efforts of our supply chain have failed. We were wondering if anyone has NXP LPC43S67JBD208E in stock. We will take whatever people are willing to supply.

JUN 2020

One of our critical machines is due a service.  The Engineer would have to travel from Germany but would only be in the country 2 days. We currently have a no visitor policy so have asked him not to come. However, this critical machine does go down from time to time so we may need him to visit. We were wondering have any members had to deal with this issue and what precautions they have taken. We are concerned about customs refusing entry, transport to and from the plant re. taxi availability, the safety of our staff, etc.

JUN 2020

“A bit of background to my question: Most of us are currently working from home at the moment, with a small number of lab-based personnel continuing to work on site. In the coming weeks we’re planning to allow more people back into the building but for safety reasons we need to cap this number (e.g. max 60-70 people at any time in the building), and to manage this we’re looking for some kind of a desk-booking solution where people can pre-book a desk in advance. We’re looking for recommendations from companies who already have a desk booking solution in place or those who are looking to implement one and are further along in this search than we are.”

MAY 2020

“We are a small sized Irish subsidiary of a Multinational and are looking for an electronic document management system for IP sensitive R&D information which needs to be shared with colleagues, reviewed and approved prior to trials etc. We currently have a document management system as part of our integrated ISO management system but it is not suitable for this R&D documentation as we do not want to put into information onto the software providers cloud. Previously this R&D information was in hard copy with formal sign off on site and currently in the short-term e-mail is used for distribution and approval but this is not ideal or practical long term. We are looking for a software solution which can be used to control distribution and approval and this and other R&D information with the information remaining our company server. Is there secure software that people would recommend?”

MAY 2020

“We are a long-established business that has been trading successfully on a B2B model. However, in the current Covid situation we are adapting our strategy to an online model, selling directly to the customer. This is an area we have no prior experience of. We would be very interested in engaging with other companies that have global brands and have transitioned to an online, direct to consumer sales model – on the approach taken and lessons learned. Also, can any member recommend an expert or consultancy firm, with experience of global brands, that could guide us on this journey?”

APR 2020

“Our company is manufacturing based and our products are in significant demand during this pandemic. To maintain operations, we have invested significantly in ensuring social distancing guidelines have been implemented across the site. Having adjusted production line layouts, canteen configurations, shift patterns etc. to help ensure physical distancing, we have observed groups of employees smoking in close proximity in the designated smoking areas. We are concerned that having worked so hard on other areas that a visit from the HSA could shut us down as a result. Some recent reports also suggest that even maintaining 2m distancing is inadequate for smokers, as the virus can be carried further when smoke is exhaled.

For workplaces that permit smoking on site, how are companies handling this challenge or thinking about it for the future?

  • Declare factory/office/campus totally smoking-free (no designated smoking areas)
  • Modify the designated smoking areas
  • encourage better distancing – e.g. 4m spacing marked on ground?
  • Smoke extraction systems?
  • Reduced capacity (one out, one in, like supermarkets)
  • Other?
  • Any other suggestions / ideas?”

MAR 2020

“We are now operating a work-from-home policy and some of our employees have requested to work from their family home locations which are in other countries. What approaches are people taking on this? They would continue to do exactly the same role as if they were in Ireland for that period. Are there tax issues if they go home for 1-3 months?  Is there any revenue guidance? As an employer are there any other “gotchas” in granting such permission?”

MAR 2020

A manufacturing company is looking to understand other companies’ policies in relation to CovId-19.
Specific questions:

  1. What preventative measures are manufacturing companies putting in place beyond hand washing and good hygiene practices?
  2. Scenario 1: A production employee rings in with symptoms. What is your approach in relation to (a) employee with symptoms (b) other production employees and (c) production plant?
  3. Scenario 2: A production employee is confirmed to have Covid-19 virus. What is your approach in relation to (a) employee with Covod-19 (b) other production employees and (c) production plant”?
  4. How many employees do you have? What sector of industry do you operate in?

Contact Darragh Gaffney to see how your company could also leverage the expertise of the network via our MQT.