New Study Offers Insight on Covid’s Manufacturing Impact

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Business all around the world has been impacted by Covid-19, with many of them seeing negative effects as a result. Manufacturing has been one of these sectors in which the impacts were felt first, and have consistently remained. Now, new studies are being done to see just how manufacturers responded to the pandemic, and what lessons can be learned for the future.

According to the study conducted by Dr. David Widdifield and Dr. Ramesh Subramoniam, who are faculty members from the Naveen Jindal School of Management at The University of Texas, Dallas, much of the response by manufacturers has been reactionary and rather uncoordinated. In fact, many did not have plans in place about how to respond to an outbreak of an infection disease.

Dr. Subramoniam said that the research was an “eye-opener” in understanding how manufacturers handle unexpected, massive disruptions. The study, completed from June to July, assessed online responses from 71 manufacturing practitioners across 39 facilities and six continents. Some were able to shift over into manufacturing in-demand medical equipment, while others struggled with “repurposing and pivoting.” The study also highlighted how new technology, like 3D printing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence could be used to mitigate these disruptions by allowing companies to react faster and be more resilient to potential future rapid disruptions.

According to the study, 96% of the companies were operational during the pandemic’s peak. However, of those only 56% were running at full capacity, while the remaining 44% were at partial capacity. Key products targeted by those who were trying to repurpose and pivot included hand sanitizer, respirators, and other medical PPE. Many of the firms also had no plan for disease-based disruptions, which is part of why it has taken them some time to re-establish normal supply chains.