What Are The Challenges Affecting UK Engineering Companies Amid COVID-19

The Challenges Affecting UK Engineering Companies Amid COVID-19How Does The UK Engineering Sector Adapt Amid COVID-19?

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.

There is still specialist engineering done in the UK and lots of general engineering, however the UK engineering sector has been shrinking over the last two decades.

The UK engineering sector is used to seasonal downturns, however with the speed COVID has spread, many have seen projects delayed or cancelled.

Supply chains are under pressure.  Employee and subcontract labour health is a concern not to mention social distancing on the engineering floor.

Managing The Crisis

Managing the crisis at the time is the challenge for UK engineering companies.

Engineering ground to a halt, bills were still electronically taken.  Rent is still due, staff still needed paid and banks loans were still expected to be paid.

However with COVID-19, a new issue has arisen, based around social distancing.

Social Distanding In Manufacturing

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.

Securing Supply Chains

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on engineering supply chains.

There have been long delays and even many vendors and subcontractors have had to close due to the effects on their businesses.

Securing supply chains for engineering companies is essential, having suppliers and backup suppliers is essential to keeping the engineering wheels turning.

Time and resource do need to be invested into engineering supply chains, to find vulnerabilities.

Talking to suppliers, analysing data and building a dashboard to ensure the data is updated and refined over time.

COVID should teach engineering companies that relying on just a handful of suppliers is dangerous.  If one or two go out of business, this could lead to the whole supply chain collapsing.

Financial Stability

In the early day’s of COVID, the UK government did step in to ensure that the country did not collapse, as only key workers and essential businesses stayed open.  Everything else had to close.

Supermarkets stayed open, car showrooms closed.  Exercise for just 1hr a day was allowed and only local and essential travel.

Now years on, we are still seeing holes in the economy.  Many building materials are still hard to source.  Many food items have disappeared from our shelves.  Home delivery services like Just Eat have thrived despite supermarkets and restaurants seeing business as usual.

The new normal has arrived but the world is a very different place.

COVID is still with us and engineering companies are still feeling the ripples from 2020.

Financial stability is essential for engineering companies in the UK to ensure holes do not appear.  Assessing on a project by project basis.  Re-negotiating lease agreements or lending agreements to ensure finances are not stretched.

Working With Employees

Working from home is now the new normal.

Pre pandemic, few people worked from home as the office, hospital, police station was the workplace 9-5, 5 days a week.

Working from home 2-3 days a week for all almost all professions is now the new normal in the post pandemic world.

Indeed for UK engineering companies, having flexible staff that can work from home efficiently is now expected.

So What Is The Answer?

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.

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