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4 Ways COVID-19 Is Impacting Manufacturing

By Snap Agency May 27, 2020

We don’t have to tell you that the effects of COVID-19 have been colossal—you’re very likely living that experience right now. New developments manifest daily, whether they are extended stay-at-home orders, adjusted travel bans, or shifting expectations for hospitals, service industries, and other essential businesses. Manufacturers especially have been struck by COVID-19, as we’ll examine in-depth below. But rest assured, despite these conditions, manufacturers are taking, and can take, proactive steps to keep both employees and customers safe, happy, and hopeful for the future.

1. Order Cancelations

Manufacturing businesses have experienced severe dips in demand in recent months. In other words, many of us in quarantine have reevaluated how much we need certain products—or rather, if we need those products right now.

These order cancelations have affected both B2B and B2C companies across the board—Gap Inc., for one, asked its suppliers to halt production and stop shipping orders this past April, and many other retailers are following suit. Even industries like aerospace are doing the same; Boeing customers canceled 150 Max plane orders in the wake of recent travel limitations.

In situations like these, the solution is not nearly as simple as merely “putting operations on pause.” Cancelations and delays threaten workers’ livelihoods, and often, companies cannot bear the resulting financial burden. Unless they’re manufacturing essential PPE and other medical supplies to combat coronavirus, many manufacturing plants have been closed for weeks and are only just beginning to reopen.

2. Employee Layoffs

Order cancelations mean slowed operations, which means fewer employees are needed. Some businesses are furloughing workers, cutting shifts, or letting employees go entirely. Fewer employees, then, mean less work is getting done, and any influxes of orders become even more backlogged. Essentially, the challenges to manufacturing become something of an endless loop. 

However, with stay-at-home orders lifting across the country, we expect to see manufacturing ramp up again. With that will come demand for workers. Some manufacturers are already finding it easier to fill positions in light of the number of people currently looking for work.

3. Lack of Resources

While many businesses are canceling orders, others are faced with a considerable spike in them. And yes, we’re expressly thinking about household products here, such as soap, napkins, and of course, toilet paper. A Procter & Gamble plant in California stated that they’ve been producing and shipping Charmin toilet paper rolls at “record-high levels” as the public stocks up for the months to come.

Suffice it to say, when orders spike to this degree, there are bound to be delays, especially for manufacturers faced with an employee deficit, strict operational limitations, and even a lack of raw materials. The effects on the public are substantial; many K-12 schools, for one, have shifted to online classes, resulting in an increased demand for Chromebooks and iPads. Slower production speeds will substantially disrupt digital learning as students attempt to round out the 2020 school year.

4. New Employee Health and Safety Precautions

New manufacturing practices, such as social distancing and mask use, are there to keep workers safe, which is the highest priority during this time. Whether an industry is physically stalled (ex. masks reducing the range of vision, necessary plexiglass dividers being unavailable) or has experienced decreased manpower (ex. employees working more slowly to prevent spreading sickness), productivity has inevitably dropped. Some of these operational inefficiencies and challenges, such as a lack of raw materials, will resolve themselves over time as the supply chain straightens itself out and workers adjust to new safety procedures.

What Steps Are Manufacturers Taking to Keep Both Employees and Customers Safe and Happy?

Thankfully, manufacturers are finding ways to adapt to new demands and health regulations while keeping suppliers satisfied. Some examples of this include:

  • Developing flexible staffing levels to accommodate unpredictable shifts in supply and demand
  • Implementing new on-site safety measures, such as health checks, sanitizing stations, and reinforcing social distancing guidelines
  • Leveraging online platforms and digital marketing solutions to keep valued customers updated and combat disrupted manufacturing operations flexibly and reliably

Maintain and Grow Your Online Presence During COVID-19

We’re living in a time of “what-ifs,” but thankfully, we’re also living in a time when remote work is more feasible than ever before. That might not seem quite as relevant when the majority of your operations can’t be accomplished from home, but it actually means that your target audience is online more than ever before. While many of us are glued to our laptops, it’s more crucial than ever to strengthen your online presence. Whether you’re operating with altered hours or still working on a plan to reopen, every little bit of effort you can put towards a digital strategy will pay off in the long run.

At Snap, we’re dedicated to helping you create an adaptable COVID-19 marketing strategy. Perhaps you need to develop an ad campaign that reassures an uncertain audience. Maybe you’re concerned about the spike in order cancelations and want to remind your buyers how much their business means to you. Whatever your marketing and manufacturing goals, Snap is here to assist you. Reach out to us today to get started.