Manufacturing in a COVID-19 World

undefinedCOVID-19 has led to many changes in our daily lives and has similarly had massive impacts on the majority of businesses.

Some have been forced to close down, others to radically change how they work. Their supply chains have been disrupted and their workers are concerned about coming to work or are staying home. In addition, many workers are being furloughed or laid-off.

But despite this manufacturers are continuing to fight through and to continue business, adapting or changing their ways of working, adopting social distancing on the production line, changing locations of workstations, installing screens, or working entirely differently.

Some are pivoting to in-demand products or repurposing lines to produce PPE. Stories include a local bakery that has ramped up from 2,500 to 25,000 loaves per day with 25% less staff, and a sign maker that has switched to produce 60,000 face shields.

All of these examples are taking place around us and should be inspiring action and resilience in these difficult times.

The negative side includes the looming economic recession and the financial impacts caused by higher overheads and raw material cost increases. While governments are doing there best to help we know that the financial impact is going to be huge, and some companies will not survive.

There is also a darker side…… the massive rise in cyber attacks. We have seen this grow 4000x with a particular increase in phishing attacks, including those disguised as COVID-19 data and reports. So it’s important to take every precaution, ensure your virus protection is up to date and educate your team not to click links or open attachments on emails unless they have verified the sender first.

Keys to Success

In order to succeed in these trying times manufacturers need to change and adapt their operations, potentially limit which products they are producing or pivot to new products.

They should also consider how to optimize through adopting Industry 4.0 best practices. These do not have to be complex or expensive, at its heart Industry 4.0 is about strategy and a philosophy of using data to make better decisions, either manually or in an automated way. It does not have to be about purchasing automation or technology.

How can information help you succeed?

Are you using data to understand your current production processes? Do you know the percentage of time your machines are sitting idle or the amount and causes of downtime?

If you have modern machines then you may already have easy access to data on their performance, but if not then go old school and have someone with a stopwatch follow the production process and note the times taken to produce at each stage, the amount of time spent idle etc.

This will help you to start better understanding the situation, assist you with optimizing your production, reducing your costs etc. Techniques such as Lean or 6-Sigma can help you.

Final thoughts

There are three key messages to leave you with: Innovation, Transformation and Renewal.


  • Think outside the box
  • Adapt lessons from other industries
  • Re-purpose capabilities and technology


  • Pivot to in-demand products
  • Adapt current capacity to meet new needs


  • Rejuvenate your business post COVID-19
  • Take a fresh eyes approach and plan for the future

In the presentation we explore some ideas around how to thrive, things to consider, and what to think about post COVID-19.

Click one of the links below to see the deck or the full video.

Manufacturing in a COVID-19 World [pdf]

Manufacturing in a COVID-19 World

Resources and useful links:

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