The unexpected and sobering impact of COVID-19 is still reverberating across the manufacturing industry globally. The crisis has affected manufacturers in three critical areas with labor, supply, and demand all hit simultaneously. As economies start to open up again, manufacturing businesses will need to ensure they build immunity to risk through technology and adapt to the new standards in hygiene, social distancing, and safety.
SafetyCulture has digitised the world’s COVID-19 guidance into easy to use, and fully-customizable checklists as part of its Safely Back to Business initiative. The program supports all sectors return to work and to enhance the safety experience. Businesses can return faster by learning from the reopening trends occurring throughout the manufacturing world.
The common theme across automotive manufacturers globally is a gradual transition back to full production. In the UK, Vauxhall has temporarily reduced production levels to maximise social distancing and get back to manufacturing sooner. The plan is to slowly increase the number of workers in groups of 40, ensuring safety and sustainable output.
Food and beverage trends
One of the biggest challenges facing food and beverage manufacturers is maintaining social distancing throughout human-based processing tasks. Now, Mitsubishi have developed a new collaborative robot named ‘CoBot’ just in time for reopening. CoBot is designed specifically to work in collaboration with human workers in production lines.
Inventory has become a dirty word in manufacturing, as organisations attempt to align supply and demand with razor precision. Material orders have become smaller and more frequent, leaving very little buffer. The lean, just in time supply chain has successfully freed up capital for other purposes and seemingly worked well for decades. Until the crisis hit, that is. Just in time supply is set to become just in case inventory.
Fashion manufacturing is set to change forever, as the crisis exposes fundamental flaws in the existing business model. Overproduction is the norm within fashion brands, as garments are produced seasonally in advance, then shipped into retail channels. Market supply and demand are almost entirely disconnected, creating large volumes of unsold inventory. While significant levels of wastage are expected, these volumes have ballooned during the crisis.
Pharmaceutical and medical trends
Crippling shortages of medical equipment have led to unpreceded changes for medical manufacturers. Organisations that operated tightly held monopolies based on intellectual property rights have started giving away their designs. Global giant Medtronic has released the full designs of many best-selling ventilators to encourage supply.
Aviation manufacturers have been heavily impacted by the crisis as passenger flights are grounded across the world. Emirates and other major airlines have already started working with manufacturers on weight-saving design changes. One of the primary design changes being by manufacturers is ultra-light material for passenger seating. By introducing lighter material and small design changes airlines can achieve reductions in weight to offset capacity restrictions.
Trends across manufacturing sub sectors
The crisis has accelerated demand for real-time safety data, as leaders make critical operational decisions faster than ever. Increased compliance requirements, additional corporate responsibility, and shifting employee levels are some of the challenges. Previously, the digital transformation of safety information was considered optional – now it’s operation critical.
To support Australia’s manufacturing industry, SafetyCulture has digitised hundreds of the world’s top COVID-19 reopening guidelines into simple mobile checklists in an inspection app that any team member can use in minutes. Download free ‘Return to Work’ templates, and check out their eBook with tips to help Manufacturers get safely back to business faster.