COVID-19 Affects Manufacturing

It’s hard to say how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting manufacturing. On the one hand, 18,000 manufacturing workers are unemployed. On the other, consumer packaged goods are selling like hotcakes and some manufacturers are having trouble keeping up with demand.

Packaging World conducted a survey of CPG and food, beverage, and personal product manufacturers to find out the biggest challenges. They asked just one open-ended question: what’s the biggest challenge?

They distilled the answers into a few big worries.

Keeping workers safely at work

The concerns about workers fell into two camps. First, factories are having trouble getting and keeping enough workers … as they have been for years. The Skills Gap, manufacturing’s PR issues, and the coronavirus make it tough to keep enough staff on hand. Attendance is an issue for many.

But once the workers are on the floor, safety becomes the primary concern. Respondents mentioned practical issues with keeping workers 6 feet apart or getting hold of needed personal protective gear. They also worried about whether their workers understood and followed the safety rules.

When getting team members to follow ordinary factory safety rules is challenging, it makes sense to worry whether they’ll follow a new set of safety rules outside the plant. Some respondents specifically mentioned workers’ family members. They want to keep their workers safe, of course, but they also want to make sure the virus doesn’t come into the facility with someone who isn’t being careful enough.

Keeping up with demand

Companies making food and other groceries are having trouble keeping up with demand. Some companies were having to repackage items intended for restaurants so they could send them to groceries instead. Keeping up with that kind of demand shift requires lots of new packaging along with new production.

Consumer demand is focusing hard on certain items. We’ve seen people hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other personal products. We’ve also seen surges in demand for baking ingredients and home fitness equipment. Snack foods have, according to one respondent, “increased to astonishing levels never seen before.” Another respondent expressed frustration because “there is no way to predict what customer and consumers will do next.”

Or lack of demand

At the same time some supply chains are getting stretched to the breaking point, other industries are shutting down completely, having orders cancelled, and worrying about finances.

Looking ahead?

Industries that have been slowed or stopped by COVID-19 now have time for innovation, upkeep, and upgrading their equipment. However, the Packaging World survey didn’t hear any plans to do these important tasks. Instead, respondents said they worried that they wouldn’t be able to innovate or even to focus on maintenance.

Actually, this is a great time for factory repair or reman of your Rexroth electric industrial drive and control systems. Contact us if you’re stopped or slowed. You’ll be able to get like-new components with a new warranty, even on legacy parts. Do it without the costly downtime you’d face if you wait for an emergency. Take advantage of this opportunity to end up better than before when it’s all over.

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