The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to the manufacturing industry in a myriad of ways. As shutdowns began clamping down on all activities in March 2020, issues arose related to supply chains, automation, worker safety, productivity, and remote work. Now, as nations and industries begin to navigate their way forward as restrictions are lifted, manufacturers have an opportunity to put into practice some lessons learned.
While many areas experienced backlogs, others found opportunities to better their existing practices. Medical and other manufacturers quickly began producing copious amounts of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and employees in other industries deemed essential. Companies embraced more online training and sales interactions and rolled out enhanced websites to engage with customers. Some automation companies reported having ample production while still able to fulfill orders while focusing on implementing new automation projects.
An Evolving Economy
As the United States slowly adapts to the lasting pandemic environment and shipping pitfalls, there is an opportunity to maximize on domestic production and manufacturing. Part of the key to success is to build back slowly and steadily while rethinking the key roles of workplace automation, training, and even locations of employees.
The confidence in businesses is rising, which is leading to corporations having an increased consumer demand that flows up and down as job salaries and inflation sway. So many rapid changes is resulting in supply chain issues, as industries across the globe are having communication concerns as different countries are still in varying stages of the pandemic.
Automation Brings Success
Due to countries having delayed supply chains and production capabilities, the United States is seeing a trend in bringing back manufacturing and sourcing closer to the country, as to shorten the supply chain trips and potential setbacks. Some of the best ways to shorten the length of time in production and justify U.S based manufacturing is through the integration of automation systems. We are experiencing a dilemma in labor where workers are straying away from repetitive tasks, which in part contributed to the outsourcing of many production jobs. Adding more machines to the workplace reduces the need for more workers, which is a promising avenue to create more meaningful jobs for U.S workers, and shorten the trip products have to make across the globe.
The outlook is bright for new workplace technologies, as 76 percent of manufacturing professionals intend to increase investments in digital initiatives, while 20 percent cite managing productivity as their top challenge in the present situation. This, paired with 44 percent of manufacturers wanting to shift more to a regional supply chain model, is very promising for United States based companies.
the Remote Workforce
Obviously, bringing back production to the United States is at the forefront of many manufacturers’ minds, but an important way to do this is to take advantage of the new career opportunities the pandemic has presented. This is mainly the immense influx and rise of remote workers. United States based, work from home employees present a large advantage to companies looking to bring in new technologies. Many workers are learning new digital skills to sustain working from home, which will be bringing in new talent over the next several years. Capitalizing on a large remote development workforce will allow manufacturers to speed along their automation plans to better sustain this new hope of domestic sourcing.
Another unplanned benefit emerged as companies beefed up their online presence to include a range of online training, maintenance, and virtual opportunities. An advanced online presence allows for increased sales and workplace interconnectivity, which would facilitate the push to nearshore and consolidate operations.
Bringing on more employees to embrace these workplace changes is important, making Manufacturing Day and similar initiatives so crucial in the current environment. Developing the next generation of manufacturing professionals allows for new ideas to prosper and grow.
Clarion Safety offers support to manufacturers and safety professionals across the globe through a variety of visual safety communications products and related services. As you look to advance your digital capabilities in production and your workforce, keep our ClarionAccess platform in mind as a solution to efficiently elevate machinery guides and employee training, bolstering safety and risk reduction. Contact our team if you have specific questions about our services.