Demand Vs Pandemic: The Effects Of Covid-19 On Manufacturing

effect covid-19 manufacturing industry demand manufacturers coronavirus pandemic

The beginning of a new year is usually an exciting time in business. It represents a chance to start afresh and right the wrongs of the previous year. Funds are year-marked and targets are set, it is all systems go after the holidays. 

Enter Covid-19, and the world is thrown into disarray: no one has a handbook on how to handle the situation. Everyone is at risk, a literal, life, and death situation. 

So, where does that leave businesses? Manufacturers, especially, have found themselves in a dilemma requiring fast adaptation. How do you keep the supply chain going in the middle of a pandemic? So, in case you have been having trouble finding your favorite products; here are some changes and challenges manufacturers are facing due to Covid-19. 

Maintaining Consumer And Loyalty 

The coronavirus has been a disruptor in most markets. When you factor in all the changes happening in people's lives, it is unlikely their consumer habits will remain the same. Staying in business and retaining your consumer niche has necessitated adjustments in: 

Packaging

Some health experts recommend that items be sanitized after bringing them home because Coronavirus can spread through contact. In response to this, consumers are leaning towards products that are well-packaged to ensure safety and ease of cleaning. Plastic packaging and aluminum cans, for example, are suitable because they are unlikely to absorb water or cleaning fluids. 

In a bid to keep up with the times, the packaging is something manufacturers may have to reconsider. It is impactful because a change in packaging necessitates new machinery. Changing from woven bags to cans, for instance, means you will need to install a can sealer in the production chain. Properly sealed containers are the only way to ensure that product reaches consumers in good condition. 

Adjusting production is no small feat, machine-oriented processes are rigid in nature and abhor change. However, this may slowly become the new normal in the industry. 

Branding 

If you expect customers to remain loyal to your brand, then it is only fair that you are loyal to them. Many people have lost loved ones, jobs, and are living in constant anxiety. A good brand needs to be responsive to the times and show empathy to humanity. 

The concept here is not to use Covid-19 as a marketing gimmick, it would be distasteful. Instead, things like encouraging messages on the packaging make a difference. Donating face masks and hand sanitizers is another way to be supportive too. If ever there was a time for corporate social responsibility, this it. 

Staff Safety

Mornings have previously always been about clocking in and changing into work uniforms, hard hats, or dawning lanyards. Now, a supervisor would probably scold staff more for not sanitizing or following health safety regulations. Willful neglect of them endangers both the lives of colleagues and the company at large. Governments have been closing down premises where infection cases have been confirmed so as to contain spreading. 

It is a delicate balance between continuing to produce and ensuring workers stay safe. As much as most manufacturing processes are automated, human input still remains indispensable. For this reason, protecting your staff is equivalent to protecting the supply chain as they keep it running. 

Measures such as protective gear, extra sanitation, and working in smaller shifts have proven effective. There are, however, helpful recommended guides manufacturers can follow to set up a safe work site. 

Quantities Of Production 

As a result of the many changes occasioned by the pandemic, optimum scales of production have been difficult to maintain. They have been impeded by: 

• Temporary shutdowns to ensure health safety measures are put in place 

Shipping delays due to inter-country restrictions 

• Staffing issues as some workers fall sick or get quarantined 

• Cessation of movement orders and curfews 

A major contributing factor to the destabilization of production has been raw materials. Coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic and therefore for those importing inputs from across the world, logistics are tough. 

Most governments have been allowing the movement of cargo but it takes time for systems and planning to be adjusted. Meanwhile, airports remain closed in some countries with only a few cargo flights allowed. As a result, in some cases, sea shipping is the only alternative. Still, even then, truck drivers' potential to be super-spreaders has meant that landed cargo is also facing delays. 

The effect of all these snags and challenges can not be understated. It has certainly not been business as usual. 

Money Matters 

If anything has been an outward indicator that manufacturers are in financial straits, it is the massive loss of jobs. In a bid to cut down costs like other businesses, factories have had to let some or all work go; depending on their situation. It does not end there, they still have to contend with: 

Market Instability 

Financial planning is done on the strength of projections which are in turn dependent on consistent trends. Ironically, if there is one thing businesses and society have not had in this pandemic, it is consistency. 

When the future is uncertain, people's buying habits can be erratic and unpredictable. On the other hand, as a manufacturer, you scale your production by analyzing and predicting demand trends. The problem now is, you can not predict anything in such uncertain times. You run the risk of producing stuff you can not sell. 

Profit Warnings 

Extra costs from creating a safe work environment were abrupt and unplanned. Similarly, the general decline in trade and sales has been a major blow. A mix of these and many other effects of the Coronavirus will affect profitability. In fact, should most manufacturers have to operate at lesser capacity for an extended period of time, they risk losses. 

Conclusion 

Much has been said about adopting a 'new normal', which, granted, may eventually be possible. However, in the meantime, there will be a lot of resilience required not just from manufacturers but everyone. Empathy and understanding that we are all finding our legs in this a pandemic will go a long way. Stay safe.

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