The world took a massive hit during the COVID-19 crisis, including many industries around the globe. Thankfully, the pandemic seems to be winding down – for now. Today, let’s explore how the manufacturing industry has bounced back during and post-pandemic.

How The Manufacturing Industry Was Impacted During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the worldwide economy, especially when workers were told to stay home for their own safety. Unfortunately, the manufacturing industry also saw its share of challenges. Some of these challenges included supply chain disruptions, increased costs, and delivery delays. Like everything and everyone else in the world during this difficult circumstance, it was time to hold our ground.

Bouncing Back From The Pandemic

The pandemic highlighted the need for increased career growth, innovation, and sustainability. The natural vigor and resilience of the industry found its footing by meeting these challenges head-on – meaning new jobs to fill and technologies to wield.

Here is an excerpt from Deloitte’s 2022 Manufacturing Outlook report:

It is unusual to see positive economic indicators paired with historic labor and supply chain challenges. But this is the trajectory for US manufacturing in 2022 emerging from the pandemic. The recovery gained momentum in 2021 on the heels of vaccine rollout and rising demand. As industrial production and capacity utilization surpassed pre-pandemic levels midyear, strong increases in new orders for all major subsectors signal growth continuing in 2022.1 Deloitte projections based on the Oxford Economic Model (OEM) anticipate GDP growth in manufacturing of 4.1% for 2022.2  As capital expenditures rise, a combination of high business valuations, strong earnings, and low-cost debt may also encourage companies to add technology capabilities, gain share, and expand in new markets with M&A. Policy initiatives and infrastructure investment have the potential to contribute to manufacturing’s recovery.

Let’s break this down. The report details that the “return-to-normalcy”, especially after the vaccine rollout had led to growth that “surpasses pre-pandemic levels midyear.” This means a stronger demand for the products that manufacturers produce daily. With this demand, the need for new technology, infrastructure, expansion, and a more robust workforce is apparent.

The Increased Role of Technology in Manufacturing

3D printing camera

This post-pandemic surge as noted above certainly put forth the role of technology in everyday business, especially on the manufacturing floor. Products need to be manufactured quicker without sacrificing quality standards.

But how do we do this? Let’s explore a couple of the most prevalent technological advances in manufacturing. While these concepts were in the process of industry adoption pre-pandemic, the crisis has absolutely sped up the need for implementation.

Digitalization, Automation, and Industry 4.0

Manufacturing becomes increasingly digital each day. This can be seen in the concept commonly referred to as “Industry 4.0.” Essentially, Industry 4.0 refers to the digital automation of manufacturing capabilities. 

According to Forbes, “as a result of the support of smart machines that keep getting smarter as they get access to more data, our factories will become more efficient and productive and less wasteful. Ultimately, it’s the network of these machines that are digitally connected with one another and create and share information that results in the true power of Industry 4.0.”

Now, this may initially make manufacturing workers feel uncomfortable. There’s a commonly held belief that “robots will replace workers” at some point in the future. However, robots cannot make human decisions and automation only seeks to make things more efficient and optimized. This technology will create new jobs and breakthroughs in manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing (additive manufacturing). 

Deloitte theorizes that the use of digital technology could “bring operational efficiencies to scale,” – even post-pandemic.

Manufacturers looking to capture growth and protect long-term profitability should embrace digital capabilities from corporate functions to the factory floor. Smart factories, including greenfield and brownfield investments for many manufacturers, are viewed as one of the keys to driving competitiveness.18 More organizations are making progress and seeing results from more connected, reliable, efficient, and predictive processes at the plant. In 2022, 45% of manufacturing executives surveyed expect further increases in operational efficiency from investments in the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) that connect machines and automate processes.

The Manufacturing Industry Must Not Resist Change

Within the possibilities, there is a warning: the manufacturing industry must not resist change. Expanding markets, innovations, sustainability, and increased job opportunities will all be instrumental in creating consistent growth. And making major investments into these areas now can prepare the industry for if and when the next major disruption occurs.

The Many (New) Career Opportunities In Manufacturing

Okay. This blog got a bit technical. But what does this all mean for you? In short, it means more opportunities for jobs! 

The manufacturing industry is bouncing back and looking to fill positions in many different areas. These areas range from traditional manufacturing roles, such as CNC Machinist to Electro-Mechanical Assembly and Robotics.

As we enter into an increasingly digital age and the prior generations of manufacturers retire, the industry is in need of a fresh workforce that can wield the latest technologies. Out of this need, the Advanced Manufacturing Training Expansion Program was born.

How Can AMTEP Prepare You For A New Career?

why amtep?

Formed by the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium and MassHire North Shore, AMTEP seeks to meet the workforce needs of manufacturing organizations on the North Shore of Massachusetts. 

The program achieves this by providing no-cost hands-on manufacturing training to those on the North Shore of Massachusetts. In doing this, we can provide a successful pathway for those seeking a promising career and skilled entry-level workers for manufacturing businesses in Massachusetts, more specifically on the North Shore.