Manufacturing – a healthy constant (April/May 2020)
by Adrian Lunney
Let’s be honest – it has been very hard to make much sense of the world throughout the past nine weeks. Many commentators are pointing out that the COVID-19 virus has “changed everything”, and that our societies have no way of predicting the “new normal”. Certainly, many things have been indisputably impacted and disrupted – not least the worlds of commerce, trade and world economies. Other matters that once seemed subject to consensus – healthcare and social policy for instance – now seem open to a variety of policy. Even the worlds of science and medicine have yet to provide us with singular and clear cut answers.
But what has seemed to be constant and enduring at this critical time is the power of manufacturing to help contain and control the virus. This global emergency has required a massive demand in the provision of healthcare items and medical devices. Many of the WITTMANN Group customers have been in the forefront of the supply side of this emergency. The spotlight has been on manufacturing to deliver –from the most complicated ventilator to the smallest face mask component. Governments and procurement agencies throughout the world have been subject to a very rapid education and learning curve – as to exactly what it takes to design, tool and mold components and devices and get them to market in record time. These circumstances are difficult and often tragic – but the cooperative lessons here – if properly learnt – will be valuable. These lessons of rapid manufacturing also inform the business of effective supply chains. Another area that has been vital to societies in these times has been the guarantee of food security. Many forms of packaging technology have lately been proving their worth in securing the supply chain “from farm to fork” and in keeping the produce fresher for longer.
In short, my impression is that plastic manufacturing technology has stepped up to the crisis in many ways and has proved itself to be indispensable to humanity at this time, sustaining and saving lives all over the world. If, as we hope, the crisis eventually passes we must hope that memories are not short and that the lessons of manufacturing endure.