One of the major effects of the 2020 pandemic is the way it has devastated global supply chains. Manufacturers have been especially hit hard due to the new difficulties of securing raw materials, supplies, and equipment from other countries.
What is rather surprising, however, is how resilient global supply chains turned out to be. While there is undoubtedly a recession, our worst fears about a collapse in manufacturing did not come to pass, partly thanks to the work of companies like ANSI, but also thanks to new technologies and ways of thinking.
Here are three important ways manufacturers have managed to cope and thrive during the pandemic:
The wider adoption of enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, automation software, and robotics before the pandemic was key in helping manufacturers adapt to the changing needs of the business so quickly.
These tools had already reduced the required labor inputs for manufacturing, even before the pandemic. This not only reduced the comparative risks of employees at worksites by allowing proper social distancing, but also allowed many plants to continue producing goods, which may have been impossible in many situations had they relied on a larger labor force.
Already, manufacturers that previously relied on manual labor are looking into ways to automate different processes, not only as a way to improve production but as a way to enable their businesses to survive in the new normal.
Adopting geographical diversification
COVID-19 has been the harbinger of the so-called “end of globalization.” As mentioned earlier, manufacturers were hard-hit by the pandemic due to their reliance on sourcing labor and materials only in the most economically feasible places.
This caused many manufacturers to be especially dependent on importing supplies from China, one of the countries that was drastically affected by the coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic. Many manufacturing businesses had also based their plants in areas that were unfortunately also severely affected by the pandemic. Travel restrictions, quarantines, and various complications brought by the pandemic has also added to the difficulties of maintaining old supply chains.
Naturally, manufacturers that had already reduced their dependence on China for supplies, labor, and sales were in a better position than most others in the early part of the pandemic. This has led others to follow suit, adopting their own strategies for geographical diversification. While the globalization of manufacturing and other key industries will likely go on, moving forward, it will likely be marked with much more diversification for more flexible supply chains.
Using real-time remote monitoring and reporting
As we mentioned earlier, automation technologies such as those used in ERP software have proved instrumental in helping manufacturing supply chains weather the pandemic. But these systems would have had far less value without the real-time monitoring of processes and assets.
The ability to track different processes and data in real-time allowed many manufacturers to quickly cut their losses and readjust to make the most of the ongoing situation. Blind spots in the supply chain, areas where manufacturers may not even realize supplies were needed, were greatly reduced or often eliminated thanks to the adoption of tracking technology. Cloud computing also played a major role in making this happen as it allowed data and reports to be accessed from virtually anywhere, allowing manufacturers to further reduce the number of people on site.
If there was ever a time to update your ERP systems, it is now. The world will not go back to the way it was before the pandemic. New best practices in manufacturing supply chains will emphasize flexibility, safety, and resilience. This is something that is far more achievable with newer ERPs that not only reduce labor inputs, but also offer easy customization as well as real-time reporting and monitoring over the cloud.