Industry Specific Insights

Sigan Industries: Making a Difference by Producing Hand Sanitizer on the Frontlines

Ryan Chan

Image Source: UnSplash

“[We] work in the greatest country in the world. We should not be fighting over hand sanitizer. We should be able to get them.”

– Mynor Arrellano, Plant Manager at Sigan America

Every sanitizer bottle has a story, and Sigan America’s sheds light on the brave individuals at the frontlines keeping everyone safe. 

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the world, manufacturers of various health and sanitization products have been slammed with new orders.

Many manufacturers and supply chains are faced with an unprecedented challenge: how to respond in the face of severe need for cleaning and sanitization products. Especially those that have the equipment to rise up to the challenge and produce essential goods

The management team at Sigan Industries, which runs facilities in the United States and Canada, shares how they stepped up to meet these needs for cleaning products, while protecting the health and safety of their workforce.

Company Overview

Founded in 1998, Sigan Industries Group has been a premier manufacturer of health and beauty products. Its production facilities are developed to accommodate the specific requirements of each customer, whether that client is small or large. Sigan Industries operates diverse filling equipment that can run bottles, jars, and tubes of varying shapes and sizes. The company is dedicated to quality control.

Responding to the Call to Increase Hand Sanitizer Production

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Increasing consumer demand for hand sanitizer began earlier this year as the coronavirus began to spread. Time Magazine reported that the Nielsen market research firm noted that sales were up by 73 percent in early February when compared with the previous year. Pictures of empty store shelves, “sold out” tags from online retailers, and stories about the shortage flooded the news.

Sigan Industries previously made soaps, as well as beauty and health products. With rising need for hand sanitizer globally, the company stepped up and decided to make a difference and change its business model in the matter of weeks. If anyone could do it, it was Mynor Arellano, Sigan America’s Plant Manager, and his team.

Although Sigan Industries did not manufacture hand sanitizer until recently, the company’s employees were already familiar with the industry protocols required to produce personal care products. Wearing gloves and using specific cleaning and sanitation chemicals and procedures on production lines was already in place. The company is gearing up to get hand sanitizer production up to the level of 40,000 16-ounce bottles every day.

From Start to Finish: How Personal Care Products are Manufactured

Image Source: Bay Area News Group

Making soap and personal care products is a lot like making soup, explained Mynor Arellano. The first step is looking at the Bill of Materials, which is similar to an ingredient list. Materials are usually pre-weighed or come in bulk. A compounder follows step-to-step instructions to make the batch.

“Each sequence has critical failure steps noted,” Mynor explained. “For example, if you have to heat the compound to 60 degrees centigrade, and you don’t, the next ingredient will not disperse correctly. That’s especially important for lotions and conditioners because wax and oil don’t mix well with water naturally. For that product, we need to create an emulsion with heat or energy.”

Once a batch is made in a large kettle, a final sample is sent to the lab, which ensures that it meets all quality and safety requirements. After the batch is approved, it gets transferred to another holding tank or to 300-gallon tote cubes that are lined with single-use bags.

From there, the product is packaged using a variety of fillers, depending on the final packaging requirements. Once caps are placed on the containers, the items go through the torque machine, which ensures the caps stay on. Containers are inspected, placed in cases, and put on pallets to wait for distribution.

Before products are released, batch samples continue to undergo micro tests, which need several days to grow a detectable aerobic count, or yeast and mold. Once the sample passes that test, the packaged products are released for shipping.

Keeping Workers Safe During a Global Pandemic

Since Sigan Industries is operating in an essential business, it will not be forced to close operations. In fact, the demand for sanitation products continues to rise. The bigger question for the company is how to keep employees safe during the global pandemic.

“We’re working to reconfigure some of our production lines to give everyone more space. In one area, we’re adding a conveyor and eliminating spots where congestion and crowding exist. Not only will it increase employee safety but it will also improve efficiency.”
-Mynor Arellano, Plant Manager

Although the company already had many hand-sanitizing stations, Sigan Industries added 10 more. Employees were already required to wear hair and beard nets, safety glasses, and Nitro gloves. They have added spraying and sanitizing the drains and floors with a bleach solution.

Reduce Panic and Increase Proactive Safety Measures

One significant area for Sigan Industries is to reduce employee panic in the current situation. “While it’s important for everyone to understand how serious the Coronavirus is, we also need to reduce panic in the workforce,” Mynor said. Instead of giving into panic and fear, Mynor leads with integrity and equanimity. He and his team are working hard to communicate and provide updates regularly. 

“We want everyone to know that we are concerned for their safety. We explain that we are poised to be a force in the combat, in this war against this virus because we make hygiene products. It makes people feel a little better.”
-Mynor Arellano, Plant Manager

Utilize UpKeep’s Safety Checklists

Mynor and his team rely on UpKeep to do preventive maintenance and safety checks on all equipment. Even during a global crisis, Sigan America has been taking regular preventive checks on all equipment to ensure proper maintenance safety protocols are upheld. 

Technicians working on a variety of equipment, whether it is fillers or other machinery on the production lines, can rest easy that they can rely on their machinery to work when consumers depend on it most. 

Once a technician does a daily or weekly inspection on equipment, the technician logs all that information in UpKeep and the completed PM is automatically sent over to Mynor. Especially in a time when it is essential to maintain 6 ft of social distance, Mynor can easily check on how his equipment is doing from anywhere using UpKeep. Mynor can see exactly what safety checks have been completed and keep track of the many essential soaps and sanitizers produced everyday from a safe social distance. 

Tips for Other Businesses Responding to Coronavirus

Establish Open Lines of Communication

The best piece of advice for other companies is to communicate regularly and frequently with your employees, Mynor said.

 “They have to feel comfortable that the company is doing the most they can to keep people safe. Also, give them a sense of ownership. Ask if they don’t feel safe, what can be done to increase that confidence?” 

-Mynor Arellano, Plant Manager

Mynor suggested providing a platform for employees to share their opinions. Whether it is a digital survey, email, or group conversation on a work order in UpKeep, employees at Sigan America are seen and heard. 

Employee safety is key to cultivating a culture of community buy-in. When employees can agree to the policies in place, they can be more productive, as well as focus on what they do best. 

Remind Your Team of Your Mission

Facing a historic and unprecedented challenge is no small effort. However, it brings leaders an opportunity to bring people together and face uncertainty with core values in mind.  Grounding a team around a common purpose builds unity during a fragmented time in our world. 

Mynor keeps his team motivated during times of concern by reminding them everyday of their purpose and mission. He shares with them:

“Look, we are in a position to make a difference, let’s think about the end-user and how much they’re relying on us. Everyone depends on staying clean, and don’t panic … focus on what you have control over.

 

 What you do have control right now is making a positive difference in our country by supporting this initiative in producing hand sanitizer and hand soaps and other hygiene products, and doing a good job at it. Let’s focus on that.”

-Mynor Arellano, Plant Manager

To Mynor and his team at Sigan Industries – thank you for everything you are doing to support and sustain our world

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