Since the 1980’s we have seen the UK engineering sector shrink, as overseas manufacturing has caused ‘Made In Briton’ far to expensive. Brexit caused many issues to the manufacturing sector with the uncertainty of larger manufacturers remaining, and of course the knock on effects to the supply chains this uncertainty caused. However with COVID-19, a new issue has arisen, based around social distancing.
Many manufacturing sites in the UK will need to quickly adapt to social distancing guidelines as laid out by UK government. This may mean fewer staff on the shop floor, or outsourcing whole departments. Meetings, which play an important part of many engineering companies will be a challenge. Whether they are held online or done at a safe distance, this will undoubtedly cause disruption.
Larger manufacturers such as BAE systems or Nissan may be able to quickly adapt, but what about smaller companies? Sheet metal workers, laser cutters, drilling companies, many of which need staff to work in close proximity.
Another issue that presents itself as a challenge is the marketing for engineering and manufacturing companies. Generating business during the lockdown and looking forwards. How do businesses safeguard themselves during this period and come out the other side?
The government has tried to keep the manufacturing sector ticking over during this period, however many have had to temporarily close and furlough staff.
Firstly, talking to your customers is the first thing. If they are ‘out of action’ then you have a better understanding of where your business is currently at. If they are still active, then you can also be active.
Second, selling is a good way to get the sector back into full swing. With Brexit still being negotiated, the country does need to be more self sufficient. This brings marketing into centre stage.
Branding for manufacturing companies needs to be adapted in order to embrace the reality that COVID-19 brings. Professionals say this virus will be with us a very long time, so long term plans do need to be put into place now.