The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Top Six Manufacturing Stories of 2020

December 9, 2020 | 3 min read

Blake Menezes, Marketing Director, Bright Machines

2020 has been a whirlwind for just about everyone, but it has been a roller coaster in the world of manufacturing. As we entered into 2020, firms like Deloitte discussed the “digital muscle building” that manufacturers will need as they entered the year and discussed the potential disruptions to the manufacturing environment. Still, I think it’s fair to say that few analysts could have predicted the impact on the market we’ve seen. To reflect on this tumultuous time, I’ve assembled my top six manufacturing stories from 2020.

#1: Global Manufacturing Production Drops to the Lowest Since 2009

In March 2020, global manufacturing numbers being tracked by the JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI fell 3.2 points to a number that we haven’t seen since 2009. As the pandemic spread quickly during this timeframe, factory employment decreased at a rate not seen since 2009.

#2: United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement Goes Into Effect

July 1, 2020, the USMCA took effect, finalizing NAFTA’s breakup and ushering in a new era under this revised agreement between the three countries. For manufacturers, this was big news. The deal will allow more certainty for these countries going into 2021 and better conditions for workers in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The agreement is promising news for electronics manufacturers, with IPC valuing the electronics manufacturing industry at $155 billion between the three countries.

#3: Managing Your Supply Chain Mid-Pandemic

McKinsey & Company were ahead of the curve on this one, as they tend to be with most trends, advising manufacturers to begin taking steps to mitigate risk to their supply chain. They advised manufacturers to estimate available inventory, optimize production capacity, and manage cash/net working capital to weather the storm—still good advice as we enter into 2021 for manufacturers. 

#4: 30% of Manufacturing Companies Plan to Increase Localization within Six Months

Over the last year, manufacturers have faced challenges that they could have never imagined due to the disruptions. “In March, Thomas Industrial Survey found that 54% of respondents said they were likely to bring manufacturing and sourcing back to North America in light of recent disruptions.” This is one of our favorite stories of the year from ThomasNet that gives us hope for success in 2021.

#5: Alliance of Manufacturers Comes Together to Make 4 Billion Doses of a Covid Vaccine

In June 2020, we received one of the best pieces of manufacturing news of the year: an international foundation (The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI)) announced that they would be building two-three manufacturing plants for each of the nine vaccines being developed. Manufacturing capacity at this level so quickly was the kind of mid-year boost that 2020 needed.

#6: How to Keep Coronavirus on Ice

Manufacturing weathered quite the storm in 2020, and these stories reflect the good, the bad, and the ugly of manufacturing this year. As we see vaccines nearing distribution and manufacturing adjusting supply chains and production best practices, 2021 is gearing up to a fantastic year for manufacturers who have become nimble over the last ten months. An increase in automation investments and bleeding-edge Industry 4.0 technologies will build a level of resiliency into the global manufacturing ecosystem never-before-seen.

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