Week 12 in Manufacturing News

Biggest Factory Shutdown Since the 1940s Hits U.S., Europe; UK manufacturing exports fall to the lowest level in three years; Coronavirus: UK manufacturers urged to consider switching to making ventilators; Robot adoption: The SME challenges.

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Biggest Factory Shutdown Since 1940s Hits U.S., Europe

The economic impact of the growing coronavirus outbreak is shifting from service-driven industries like hotels and restaurants to the manufacturing sector on both sides of the Atlantic, leading to a synchronized shutdown of heavy industry that historians and industry experts say is unlike any seen since the 1940s.

Source: Bloomberg.

UK manufacturing exports fall to lowest level in three years

Manufacturing exports slumped to the lowest level in three years even before the coronavirus crisis hit the UK, as EU customers turned away from British businesses after the UK left the bloc in February.

Make UK has downgraded its forecast for manufacturing output this year and is expecting a drop of 2.1 per cent, having previously been predicted to grow at about 0.3 per cent. The trade group said the figure may have to be revised further given the impact on manufacturing from the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Source: Financial Times.

Coronavirus: UK manufacturers urged to consider switching to making ventilators

The health secretary said on Sunday the UK had 5,000 ventilators but needed many more times that number. Matt Hancock has called on British manufacturers to consider switching parts of their production to the making of medical ventilators needed to treat rising numbers of coronavirus patients.

Other countries in Europe are also racing to buy or produce more ventilators, with Italy already facing such a dramatic shortage that patients with the best survival chances are being prioritised. Germany has ordered an additional 10,000 ventilators from a domestic supplier, the FT reported. One such ventilator costs about €17,000 (£15,400)

Robot adoption: The SME challenge

The headline finding is that just 16% of SME manufacturers are already using robots and, worryingly, more than 70% either do not plan to or do not know if they will utilize robots in their operations.

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Of those already utilizing robots in their business, the impact of efficiency and effectiveness on their operations was made clear; the highest benefits cited were better quality and repeatability, lower cost and faster operations.