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Survey Plumbs Pandemic’s Impacts on Manufacturing

Fully 95% of respondents to Fictiv’s 2021 State of Manufacturing Industry said the pandemic had long-term effects on their business.

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Conducted with Dimensional Research, the sixth annual State of Manufacturing Report from on-demand manufacturing company Fictiv (San Francisco) polled hundreds of senior manufacturing and supply chain decision makers at companies producing medical device, robotics, automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics products.

In addition to 95% of respondents stating that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on their business, the same number said that “digital transformation is essential to their company’s future success.”

Supply chain issues were top of mind for survey respondents, with 94% reporting concerns about their current supply system, while 92% stated that their existing supplier networks were a barrier to new product innovation. To address those worries, 62% said they would pursue a re-shoring strategy, while 84% said they utilized on-demand manufacturing to address supply chain shortfalls.

Bringing Manufacturing Back

Anecdotally, the plastics industry has been rife with stories of production reshored in response to the pandemic, and the survey said that strategy will continue to be pursued. The survey found that 80% of medical device companies called reshoring a key strategy, followed by 67% in robotics, 61% in automotive, and 45% in consumer electronics.

One barrier to reshoring remains workforce training, with 55% citing that as an impediment to boosting their U.S. based manufacturing footprint. Other obstacles include cost (43%), insufficient capacity (36%), and lack of access to needed technologies compared to global suppliers (31%). Only 10% respondents said they saw no barriers to manufacturing in the U.S.

In a release detailing the report’s findings, Fictiv CEO Dave Evans said the pandemic spurred many companies to push into digital manufacturing in ways that will forever alter supply chains. “Companies moved quickly and decisively to solve short term problems but recognized that the limitations of their current supply chains required long-term investment and innovation,” Evans said.

Fictiv’s State of Manufacturing Report found many respondents reassessing their supply chains.