The COVID-19 crisis, which has been labeled a “black swan” event for the manufacturing industry, has caused supply chain disruptions impacting the entire value chain. The impact of COVID-19 on manufacturing is becoming clearer with each passing day. Because of these disruptions, the prices of goods have increased substantially across the globe. Companies are struggling to figure out how to balance production needs with the health and safety of their workforces and adapt to distribution challenges.
Here are some of the ways manufacturers are responding to the coronavirus challenge:
As the effects of the pandemic continue to unfold, more and more manufacturers are making business changes, such as rapidly evolving production schedules, workforce reduction, or temporary closure.
The immediate challenges facing manufacturers include how best to keep workers safe while production continues, how to ensure supply chains remain intact, how to keep customers informed and how to prepare for an uncertain future.
To face this challenge, manufacturers are increasingly looking towards automation. Due to the advancements in the technological sector in recent years, the automation process has become more flexible and efficient.
It’s not surprising that most manufacturers prioritize safety, often going above and beyond standard government regulations to slow the virus’ spread. Manufacturers have actively invested in cleaning the factory at regular intervals and promoting SOPs, such as ensuring workers are using face masks and hand sanitizers.
They’ve also encouraged workers to get vaccinated and follow social distancing restrictions. Manufacturing firms are also implementing policies for employees who show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. These include adjusting shifts so employees aren’t all in the same place at the same time, rotating employees through different parts of their facilities, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE).
Limiting Nonessential Travel and Meetings
Nonessential travel has been replaced by virtual meetings and other means of communication whenever possible. When deciding whether to allow visitors into facilities, individual companies are weighing who is essential and how they can maintain social distancing requirements when making those decisions.
Trying to Keep up with Demand
Manufacturing companies have had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in several ways, some of which are unexpected. A lot of companies can’t make enough products to meet consumer demand. The U.S. government had previously announced that it would pay American firms above the normal rate to make ventilators and other medical supplies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because many of these needed items are sourced from Chinese manufacturers, who’re cannot keep up with the demand due to the virus outbreak there.
It’s not just medical supplies that are in high demand during this crisis, though. As people look for ways to work remotely and stay entertained at home, consumer electronics manufacturers have seen sales skyrocket. Other manufacturers that have benefited from the crisis include companies that produce products like toilet paper and hand sanitizers. Despite the record demand, they still face logistical challenges related to delivery and fulfillment.
Others have had to completely reinvent themselves to help tangibly fight the pandemic — some distilleries have begun producing hand sanitizer instead of whiskey; other firms have stepped up to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers.
To survive, a company must produce products that are more desirable than those of its competitors. No matter how big, strong, or great the company is, it won’t be able to survive if it cannot innovate especially, in a crisis. Giants such as Nokia, Kodak, and Blackberry have seen the consequence of not innovating.
To compete successfully, companies need to innovate to provide their customers with products that are more relevant and exciting than those of their competitors. Innovation is what differentiates the winners from the losers in the marketplace. This can only be achieved if firms reinvent themselves and adopt practices like rapid prototyping and 3D printing.
In addition to optimizing production facilities, manufacturers are working on a variety of fronts to reduce costs and increase safety for their workers. A lot of them have reduced production capacity through headcount reductions or temporary shutdowns. Others have modified work schedules or flexible work arrangements for employees, such as telecommuting or staggered shifts for social distancing purposes.
Finding New Suppliers
While many companies were able to withstand the initial outbreak in China, thanks to a stockpile of parts or alternative suppliers, companies are now facing new challenges by diversifying reliance on different manufacturing hubs. They are also constantly in communication with vendors so they can adapt faster. Companies in the United States are also looking inwards with technologies such as 3D printing to introduce their products to that market faster. This helps save on transportation costs, which have increased exponentially since the crisis started.
Get the Best Mechanical Design Services
The manufacturing industry is constantly changing. If it doesn’t adapt to these changes and keep up with the latest technologies and strategies to expand, then it may be hard for manufacturers to thwart competition. Innovation is what allows manufacturers to stay ahead and reach new potential customers.
Connekt LLC can be your partner in this difficult time and help you optimize processes to increase production and reduce costs. Our services include 3D printing, plastic injection molding, electro-mechanical packaging design, FEA consulting, and other engineering-related services to help make your product in Northern California a resounding success. Check out our portfolio here.
Contact us today for more details.