The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. manufacturing industry were gauged in a survey of more than 700 manufacturing professionals by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. A focus on post-pandemic recovery plans elicited responses on preparations for disaster-readiness, remote employment, employee training and technology investments in the aircraft/aerospace, automotive, consumer products, defense, electronics/computers, industrial and commercial machinery, medical and education/academic sectors.

Almost all survey participants report that their company was still operating in some capacity, with half stating that their companies were still fully active. About 68% of respondents are very/somewhat optimistic the industry will recover to pre-COVID-19 production status by the end of 2020, and 52% will allow some employees to regularly work remotely. A disaster-readiness plan for catastrophic circumstances will be implemented by 57% of those surveyed.

Cross-training to help employees assume new job roles, particularly in the aerospace and defense sectors, is planned by 39%. Investments in new technology acquisitions, such as robotics, digital security and 3D printing, are anticipated for the post-pandemic recovery phase by 62% of respondents. Aircraft/aerospace companies are more likely than the study average to invest in additive manufacturing/3D printing while electronics/computer companies are over 90% likely to invest in 5G network and infrastructure.

Plans are being formulated by 25% of respondents to adjust their supply chain sourcing post pandemic, with one-third of these shifting to more U.S.-based suppliers/localizing their supply chain. Respondents from the electronics/computers industry indicated that they are 110% more likely to investigate multi-sourcing than the study average. The government/military is almost 150% more likely than the average to hold more inventory on hand than before the pandemic. The industrial and commercial industry is 171% more likely to add additional suppliers/vendors during the recovery phase.

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