Technology-industry and manufacturing professionals in the country are used to things changing rapidly; however, it is worth noting that the changes that have happened in business and life during the past few months because of the coronavirus pandemic are nothing short of astonishing and will have a long-term impact.

It is no secret that the COVID-19 healthcare crisis in the US has had a profound impact on the manufacturing industry.  While there is no denying that coronavirus is impacting every business and industry in one way or another, manufacturers are under unprecedented pressure.

The novel coronavirus crisis in the country and around the globe has struck a significant blow to the manufacturing industry. And that is not all; the manufacturing industry was already combating trade policy turbulence, broader economic uncertainty, and a considerable slowdown in international manufacturing growth.

Changes to the Manufacturing Space
It is worth noting that due to this health pandemic in the US, we will likely see redesigned work environments that will have fewer workers. These workers will spend less time collaboratively because of physical-distancing requirements stipulated by local, state, and federal governments. Also, note that the manufacturing industry is particularly susceptible now, given that a majority of its workforce is employed in various on-site jobs that can’t be done remotely, which is a real cause of concern.

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And that is not all; given the specific nature of the industry, manufacturers in the country will have to consider how they can create social distancing in workspaces that are often worker-dense (such as manufacturing plants, material movements, warehouses, and logistics, etc.). This is one of the biggest challenges for the industry.

You also have to remember that this has created an acute need for individual workers to be more agile. While this need existed in the past in the form of the international skills gap in the industry, COVID-19 exacerbated it.

Supply Chain Issues
As many vendors and suppliers are likely to face financial or operational struggles of their own, manufacturers should anticipate continued weakening links in their supply chain. There is no doubt that one of the most prominent and immediate risks facing manufacturers is supply chain disruption that stems mainly from the lockdown of factories and manufacturing units across China, where the virus originated. Did you know that many companies depend heavily on China for various items, such as raw materials, including textiles, plastic products, electronics, and medical devices?

This is why manufacturers have to brace for continued and persistent supply chain bottlenecks both internationally and nationally. This is especially true in those regions that are hardest hit by COVID-19. So, it is no surprise that manufacturers, in the short-term, are now looking for new ways to introduce flexibility and ensure continuity quickly.

It is also worth noting that companies that invest considerably in making their supply chains significantly more predictable, transparent, and resilient will gain a significant advantage in the market. For example, many companies achieve this by leveraging a broader base of international suppliers. It is also essential to prepare for supply chain pivots that may require identifying alternative suppliers to continue operations.

Widespread Worker Illness and Adoption of Remote Tools
Note that manufacturers that can maintain operations during this outbreak might be able to mitigate the financial impact to their business bottom line; however, that could present serious risks to the health, safety, and well-being of their workers. In the light of the widening and massive outbreaks of coronavirus affecting their workers, organizations may have to outsource some business functions to achieve optimum results.

Some examples include shifting internal non-core operating functions to contractors or moving IT to the cloud.  For example, you can hire Lab-Clean Inc. for contract manufacturing of products, like antibacterial hand soap and hand sanitizer.

The great thing is that these changes can slash operating costs while eliminating maintenance capital and give these companies more breathing room. Also, we will likely see the rapid and mass-scale adoption of remote diagnostic, collaboration, and management tools.

This is likely to result in the emergence of what experts call a “virtual shift”:  a team of professionals and specialists connected remotely online to support and guide the reduced “physical shift” of a company’s onsite personnel. It is vital for companies to take a few common-sense precautions, like eliminating “town hall” meetings, require employees to take regular temperature checks, and posting signs reminding employees to shield their coughs, avoid physical contact, and regularly wash their hands.

During this health crisis, it is crucial to discuss flexible work arrangements and change management. Companies will have to expect a learning curve as they come up with new and innovative ways of working that entail more remote workers as well as automation and robotics on the factory floors.