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Manufacturing and coronavirus impact one another

April 6, 2020
American manufacturing is doing its best to get through the opening flurry of punches by the coronavirus

American manufacturing is doing its best to get through the opening flurry of punches by the coronavirus. Call it new coronavirus. Call it COVID-19. You know the one I mean. Manufacturers have responded by turning distilleries into hand-sanitizer production facilities and by investigating how to convert automotive manufacturing and assembly plants into ventilator factories.

The definition of an “essential business” continues to change regularly, as individuals hunker down at home in the hopes of waiting out the pandemic. But what does American industry anticipate the next few months to bring?
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) surveyed almost 600 manufacturing leaders to examine the economic and operational impacts of COVID-19.
Some of the survey highlights include:

  • 78% of manufacturers anticipate a financial impact
  • 53% of manufacturers anticipate a change in operations
  • 36% of manufacturers are facing supply chain disruptions.

“Already, manufacturers are grappling with disruptions to their businesses due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with many anticipating financial and operational consequences,” said Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO. “The federal government can take steps to further equip manufacturers to deal with COVID-19 by implementing the NAM’s ‘COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations.’ Across the country, manufacturers are stepping up to keep their employees and their communities safe and healthy, and working closely with elected officials, we can ensure the resilience not only of our companies but also our country.”
Respondents were asked in an open-ended question about the resources that would help them to prepare. They generally cited five types of needed resources:

  • nonpolitical and non-sensationalized information, particularly company-specific
  • clear and timely updates on new restrictions and health advisories
  • information about how other companies are responding
  • clear guidelines and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health
  • quick and early detection resources.

When commenting on supply chain disruptions, respondents noted issues with parts arriving late and delivering to customers late as a result. While some say these disruptions are “manageable at this point,” they do create “some additional costs.” Many mentioned having to find “alternative suppliers,” and, while disruptions are characterized as “minor now,” they are expected to become more serious “if slowdowns continue beyond next quarter.”

When discussing operations, respondents are anticipating slowdowns and “reduced customer demand.” Other responses mentioned “evaluating work schedules and inventory levels,” fielding “work from home requests” and implementing “business continuity” response plans that include curtailed travel, workplace sanitation, restricted face-to-face interactions and “staggered shifts on the shop floor to help compensate for higher-than-normal absences.”

About the author: Mike Bacidore

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