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How COVID-19 Has Affected Manufacturing

Despite the difficulties, the manufacturing sector has risen to the challenges presented. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing its spread across the United States, many have wondered, predicted, and analyzed the assumed long-term impact on the manufacturing industry and its resilience. With vaccine distribution underway, we look forward to continuing full operations with revised objectives for 2021. As we continue to promote a safe and productive environment at K & B, we look back on the difficulties presented in 2020 to the manufacturing sector.

Ensuring Safety.

The pandemic has created many unprecedented challenges for the modern workplace, especially for businesses seeking to reopen. While many may feel a sense of urgency to get their work back to normal, new guidelines and revised practices should be followed to allow for a safe, stable return. The Cleveland Clinic provides resources for creating a healthier environment for all, including:

  • “Making sure your facility is  scrubbed, disinfected and equipped with a blueprint for maintaining safe conditions.
  • Setting up a support system for employees as they return to work and adjust to new realities and emotional challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Creating a plan for a safe work environment that protects employees and customers alike from risks connected to COVID-19, including exposure and transmission.”

Keeping employees safe should always be a top priority. The manufacturing sector has risen to the challenge with many companies enforcing social distancing and wearing masks when in close quarters with colleagues. With K & B’s employees standing strong as the backbone of our company, keeping them safe is essential to be a successful business.

Rethinking Supply Chains.

A monetary concern for many in the manufacturing industry was the lowering demand for their products and services. Understandably, as many people began spending less to conserve funds, manufacturers supplying a variety of consumer and commercial goods also dropped. While demand has been steadily recovering, it still took quite a bit to adjust to the sudden decrease. 

SME Media’s study also explored how many manufacturers are rethinking their supply chains post-pandemic. Their key question was: “How will your company adjust their post-pandemic supply chain?” 

covid-19 manufacturing affecting suppliers

While half of the respondents said they are unsure if their company will adjust supply chain sourcing, twenty-five percent said their company was already planning for significant shifts. The defense industry is significantly more likely to adjust its sourcing while the aerospace industry is considerably less likely to adjust its post-pandemic sourcing.

Among those respondents looking to adjust their supply chain, one-third said their company would shift to localizing their supply chain. Respondents from the electronics industry indicated that they are over one hundred percent more likely to investigate multi-sourcing. In comparison, the government sector is nearly one hundred fifty percent more likely to hold more inventory on hand. The industrial and commercial industry is one hundred-seventy percent more likely than the average to adding additional suppliers compared to pre-pandemic times.

Predicting the Future.

As we head into the one year mark of the pandemic, what are the expectations for the future of manufacturing? Ultimately, we expect the demand for manufacturing services to climb as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available. 

covid-19 manufacturing in each sector

SME Media conducted a study to measure the outlook of manufacturing companies during and post-pandemic. According to their findings in the chart above, the manufacturing industry remains highly optimistic. Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents stated they are very/somewhat optimistic the industry will recover to its level of production pre-COVID-19 by the end of 2020. Only one-quarter of respondents specified they are somewhat/very un-optimistic that the manufacturing industry will recover that quickly.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents noted that cross-training would be essential in keeping a large majority of their pre-COVID workforce. This proves especially true in the aerospace and defense industries at sixteen percent and 25 percent, respectively. However, companies with a lower number of employees (26-100) have a higher chance of cross-training.

With COVID came uncertain company goals and objectives moving into 2021. Thirty-one percent of respondents noted that they were unsure of their company’s focus post-pandemic. About twenty percent assumed expanding the company’s offerings; thirteen percent thought filling positions was a priority, and nine percent noted training employees was essential. Again, company size correlated to their decisions to focus on key areas. Companies with 26 to 100 employees are significantly more likely to focus on expanding, while companies with 101 to 250 employees are significantly more likely to focus on employee-related matters.