Understanding COVID’s Impact on Manufacturing

As the effects of COVID in manufacturing continue to ripple across the industry, manufacturers will still be considered essential due to their role in producing critical supplies, both for homes and hospitals, and as a means of keeping supply chains from grinding to a complete halt.

Back on March 23rd, Governor Brown implemented a “stay home” order that matched what neighboring California and Washington had announced. Whether called a “stay home” or “shelter in place,” the order makes clear that individuals need to stay at home and all non-essential businesses must shut down for the immediate future. Now issued nationally and throughout much of the globe, sheltering in place has caused significant disruptions to the global supply chain that many manufacturers rely on for raw materials and supplies.

However, moving forward, as communities across the world begin to reopen, manufacturing will need to take center stage to help offset what the current loss of production has done to both the supply chain and to the shelves of stores. Of course, for manufacturers to rise to this challenge they will need to adapt to meet new and constantly evolving demands.

Creativity and Adaptability

To meet the ever changing demands of COVID in manufacturing, manufacturers will need to become creative and more adaptive than before. This includes finding new creative and adaptable ways of managing their business, such as determine whether certain types of work can be done remotely.

However, this change will also apply to the types of products manufacturers create. Federal and state governments have already asked manufacturers to convert their facilities in order to start producing desperately needed supplies. All across the U.S., states are asking manufacturers to make face masks, ventilators, and other essential supplies desperately needed by front line responders and COVID patients.

Manufacturers should begin thinking creatively about whether they have the capacity to adapt their production lines to meet these type of growing needs. You can already see examples of how certain businesses have changed to meets demands here in Oregon where a number of distillers have already started making hand sanitizer.

Manufacturers should also consider whether they can adapt their own products to support secondary needs that have arisen from the current restrictions placed on businesses and individuals who must remain at home. For example, when restaurants were required to limit their service to take away or delivery, manufacturers around the U.S. began offering “to-go containers” to restaurants who may not have used them before but were now needing to convert their delivery options.

When considering their business operations, manufacturers need to think creatively and critically about whether they meet the requirements of being an “essential business and operation” and whether they provide services or goods that fit within the supply chain of an “essential business and operation.”

As we near the end of the first wave of COVID in manufacturing response, the biggest mistake manufacturers can make is thinking this won’t or can’t happen again. Even as businesses and communities begin to reopen as the summer months role along, there’s still a chance, even a likelihood, that future “shelter at home” could take effect. Being  a manufacturer that’s linked in the supply chain of essential business could make all the difference as to whether your production continues or must endure another painful shut down.

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