Combatting COVID-19, Forging the New Normal
As a company that prides ourselves on supporting sanitary environments and healthy living, the LIXIL Group was quick to establish a global team to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic and put various countermeasures in place to protect our customers, employees, and local communities. We are also pursuing initiatives that encourage the ongoing transformation in working styles, digitalization, product development, and globalization in order to help shape our new normal post-COVID world.
Developing SATO Tap as a New Solution
Hand-washing is an effective way of preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, this can be problematic primarily for developing countries that do not have sufficient access to water or soap, sufficient hand-washing facilities, or an ingrained hand-washing culture. According to UNICEF, three billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, do not have basic hand-washing facilities in the home, and that number can be as high as 75% in the world’s least developed countries.
Our recently developed SATO Tap handwashing station can generate a stable but frugal flow with minimal water using water contained in a PET bottle and gravity. To facilitate use in developing countries and other underprivileged regions, we designed a handwashing station that can use PET bottles of various shapes and sizes and is simple to design and manufacture with only two plastic parts to keep both costs and prices low. We are scheduled to start production of the SATO Tap in India and intend to expand production into Africa as well in the future.
To help fulfill one of our three strategic pillars: Global Sanitation & Hygiene, LIXIL will invest approximately JPY 100 million in encouraging the broader use of hand- washing solutions, and we are working with UNICEF and other organizations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through initiatives that advocate hand-washing and other sanitary practices.
Protecting the Safety of our Customers
- We have built up online showroom-style customer service and sales activities via computer, smartphone, or other digital tools.
- To boost our emergency response capabilities, we have been building a more decentralized production base spreading over multiple production sites. Then, in April 2020, we launched a new system to promote greater cooperation by unifying our global production system and supply chain.
- To prepare for the new normal, we are seeking to strengthen our range of touchless toilets, faucets, and IoT-driven products. We are also focusing on the development of products with superior ventilation capabilities and solutions designed to satisfy people choosing to work from home.
- We issued informative advice on how to ventilate homes, etc
Protecting the Safety of our Employees
- We were able to shift smoothly to telecommuting thanks to the solid digital technology base that we have been gradually introducing for some time. That digital base also enables us to hold town hall meetings with managers and employees all over the world and conduct online training.
- To help forge a new normal, we are using digital tools to progress our flextime and telecommuting systems and to promote even better internal communication.
- At manufacturing sites, we introduced a flexible shift system, created a scheme that enables people to commute without using public transport, and further strengthened hygiene management.
- We gave all employees a one-time COVID-19 monetary benefit to help employees navigate difficult times.
Protecting the Safety of our Communities
- Employee volunteering: Anti-COVID-19 measures and new product development: A group of employee volunteers who wanted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 launched a virtual working group to share and implement various ideas. The projects included donating medical masks and face shields made using 3D printing technology to health workers and donating sanitizer, soap, and other items to local communities. They are also seeking to develop new products using LIXIL technology.
- We are helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by installing more of our SATO Toilet Systems for developing countries and accompanying hand-washing facilities in order to improve sanitation and encourage more widespread hand-washing.