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Abril de 2020

Covid-19: the industry responds

Dr.-Ing. Laura Flórez, editor of Tecnología del Plástico.

The industrial sector is working to adapt to the new reality, this change is manifested in five megatrends, which surely are here to stay.

A recently released survey by the National Manufacturers Association of America (NAM) reveals the effects and state of the industry as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds. The document reflects how manufacturing companies are dealing with the effects of COVID-19 on their economies, supply chains, and operations.

The results of the survey, which was conducted in the period between February 28 and March 9, were the following:

  • 78.3% of those surveyed consider that COVID-19 will have a negative impact on the finances of their companies.
  • 53.1% of manufacturers anticipate a change in their operations in the coming months.
  • 35.5% say they already face disruptions in the supply chain.
  • 50.8% of manufacturers have an emergency plan for their company and their employees to deal with the crisis.

Despite the great challenges that the industry will face in the coming quarter, however, this pandemic has generated new dynamics, which predictably will transform industrial production. Below we list five megatrends, as a result of this situation:

3D printing for manufacturing

Several initiatives have been generated locally in the countries and in the companies to manufacture personal protection components with additive manufacturing technology. Being able to respond immediately to the needs of medical personnel and replenishing economic areas that have been neglected due to the temporary breakdown of the supply chain are advantages that are appreciated more than ever by additive manufacturing. The formation of work networks is interesting, where designers, consumers and manufacturers work together, as in the "Aditiva por Mexico" initiative.

Changes in the supply chain

The supply chain was one of the first to be hit by the coronavirus, subjecting China to factory closings and delayed deliveries. Several initiatives promote local manufacturing, especially in the Mexican industrial sector. Local machinery manufacturers are favored by ensuring on-site engineering support and sourcing. Another expected consequence of this situation is the accumulation of inventories, as manufacturers are expected to tend to stock up on critical products for their supply chain, increasing logistics costs and thus customer prices.

For the second quarter of the year, electronic goods markets are expected to rapidly diversify their supply chain. The impact will be a delay in the development of products for 5G technology.

Manufacturing of essential goods

As in wartime, companies put aside their “core business” to manufacture necessary supplies, such as protective Masks, personal protection items for doctors and insulation materials to deal with critical cases are some of the products that companies are beginning to supply. Even large automakers, such as Ford and Tesla, are participating in the manufacturing of ventilators and medical equipment. This diversification in production will surely open new markets and business opportunities once the crisis has subsided, and it will undoubtedly flexibilize and expand suppliers in the supply chain of medical consumer goods.

Strengthening of the packaging sector

The food industry is experiencing a boom, and with it also the packaging industry. The fall in oil prices will probably favor the reduction of costs of plastic materials, which will further boost its demand. Single-use plastics, which had been strongly questioned, have shown their value in this pandemic. Therefore, it is expected that, instead of its prohibition, alternatives for closing the cycle will be analyzed to solve the long-term contamination problem.

Work virtualization

Virtual interaction, the use of platforms and online training have gained ground, and will surely be used from now on for the benefit of globalization and time efficiency.

 


Palabras relacionadas:
Coronavirus, 3d printing, additive manufacturing, supply chain,
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