Heather Hargis is part of our INDUSTRIAL team on a fact-finding mission to surface the technologies and trends impacting manufacturers and to share what we discover along the way.
In a year that has been ripe with turmoil, we wanted to highlight some of the fantastic work of U.S. manufacturers. Despite unexpected setbacks, our country’s manufacturers have shown resilience through their ability to pivot at a moment's notice. This has not only helped them to remain sustainable, but also allowed frontline workers across the country keep medical facilities functional, the pharmaceutical industry moving toward vaccines, and groceries on our shelves. Here are a few examples of our country’s manufacturing ingenuity:
Almost from the onset of COVID-19’s emergence in America, manufacturing companies of varying specialties quickly transformed technologies and plant focuses to create lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers nationwide. From General Electric’s leveraging of 3D printing capabilities for mask development to the Department Of Energy partnering with Georgia Tech to develop low-cost and effective face shields, government and private manufacturing organizations joined forces against the virus. Automotive manufacturers like Ford and GM also jumped in quickly, producing much needed ventilators. This ability to adapt was a win-win for all involved.
The CEO of Web Technologies, a Marlborough, Massachusetts-based manufacturer of precision composites, saw the writing on the wall in the early stages of the pandemic. After facing a loss of 50% of his aerospace business, he knew that the company would need to make a shift in order to withstand the economic crunch. So, during the pandemic, Web expanded its medical testing capabilities. This led to permanent new employees, as well as a projected 2 million in rapid-diagnostic COVID tests to be dispersed by January. Not only did his quick thinking create jobs, but also the opportunity for individuals to receive their test results more quickly.
U.S. Territory Puerto Rico was already home to over half of the United States’ pharmaceutical drug manufacturers. As the pharmaceutical industry began the sprint to unveil vaccines for COVID-19, 90% of the key ingredients that had often come from China were cut off due to crippeled supply chains. That’s when pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer began to lean more heavily on the already experienced infrastructure found on the island. So, whether supplying already approved medications that were held up in China, or beginning the production of new COVID-19 vaccines, Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical manufacturing companies helped to reinforce healthcare supply chains - while also bringing manufacturing opportunities back stateside.
An area of manufacturing that is often overlooked is the transportation industry. When it became evident that the U.S. was headed for varying levels of shut down, not maintaining the supply chain of food, as well as healthcare protective equipment, could have been disastrous. Instead, we saw heroic efforts by our transportation companies around the nation. Take PAM Transport, for example. Not only did PAM work tirelessly to maintain their transportation services, they supplied protective equipment for their drivers. In addition, they took the opportunity to honor those team and individual drivers who continued serving those of us under stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders.
According to Time Magazine, manufacturing jobs were on the cusp of moving to more remote opportunities prior to the arrival of COVID-19. While many in the manufacturing workforce can not work remotely, it is expected that many engineers and designers will not return to full-time, in-house schedules at plants going forward. These changes forced by COVID-19 have benefits beyond social distancing. Often, flexible and more remote opportunities appeal to the younger generations of manufacturers, and with many newer technologies paving the way for the future of manufacturing, providing competitive opportunities for Gen Z and beyond could change the course of manufacturing as we know it.
These are just a few of the unique stories that manufacturers have given us this year, and we are pleased to be able to share them with you. Do you have your own unique manufacturing story that you would like to share with more people? We would love to help you get the word out! Be sure to visit our INDUSTRIAL Insights page for more tips and advice on how to make marketing the strength of your business.
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