Manufacturing

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Pandemic Strikes Near-Lethal Blow to U.S. Manufacturing

 

A Return to Pre-Crisis Revenue Levels May Take Years

In the U.S., manufacturing employs 13M. But the industry has been rocked by absenteeism, broken supply and distribution networks, and changing patterns of commerce. Most manufacturers have business continuity plans for natural disasters and power outages. But none were prepared for a pandemic and the resulting widespread quarantines and plant closures. Manufacturing jobs cannot be carried out remotely and, in most cases, social distancing is difficult if not impossible. Moreover, the pandemic has slowed global demand for industrial products, which could shrink foreign direct investment (FDI) in the U.S. by as much as fifteen percent.

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Food Processing, Airlines, Energy and Automotive Hardest Hit

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Food processing. Over 3M — mostly minorities — work in U.S. food production at primarily low wage jobs. There have been more than 16,000 COVID cases reported in 239 facilities with 86 deaths. Meat processors Tyson, JBS, and Smithfield, which account for 15 percent of pork production closed after workers tested positive.
 
Airlines. Revenue has plummeted for the major carriers and their suppliers in the aircraft production ecosystem. So far, 132 thousand workers have been laid off. The International Air Transport Association estimates the industry will require a cash infusion of up to $200 billion. At the minimum, recovery will take at least two years.
 
Energy. The general economic slowdown including travel restrictions has reduced energy demand. The power supply chain has also experienced significant disruptions. Declining demand means decreased production and lower prices.

Automotive. With personal and commercial driving in decline, car and truck sales have cratered. Hyundai posted a 39 percent slump in August. For Mazda North America sales have declined 44.5 percent so far this year. Subaru's sales have plummeted 47 percent. General Motors is laying off a third shift of workers — about 1,250 people — at its Wentzville, Mo. plant, as virus fears increase absenteeism. Union workers at a G.M. plant in Texas, where hospitals are inundated with COVID patients, have called on the company to shut down their factory.

How Can Manufacturing Recover?

Since many jobs in manufacturing facilities make social distancing impractical, what is the path to recovery for the industry? Employers must build the capacity to implement basic disease-control measures at scale, such as screening, testing, contact tracing, and isolation of the infected. These steps can create COVID-free facilities that simultaneously prevent disease and restore confidence in the workplace.
 
Manufacturers must strictly follow the recommendations of the CDC, WHO, and other governmental organizations, which include:
  • Prescreening: Employers should perform health checks, including temperature screening, before an individual enters the workplace.
  • Self-monitoring: Employees should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE): Face masks and gloves should be worn at all times.
  • Practicing social distancing: Where practical and work responsibilities permit.
  • Enhance sanitation procedures: Routinely clean and disinfect areas such as offices, bathrooms, and break rooms, as well as any shared equipment on the manufacturing floor or in distribution centers.
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available. 
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Protecting Employee Data While Protecting Employee Health

Every health screening solution aimed at detecting COVID-19 and preventing its spread collects data that privacy advocates fear will be misused. Likewise, employers worry about what their rights and responsibilities are concerning employee data gathered during health screening.

When Solos Health Analytics created FeverGuard, which is fully HIPAA compliant, it anticipated these concerns. When a user’s FeverGuard device broadcasts data to the FeverGuard application that data is anonymous. There’s no personally identifiable information in the transmission. 

FeverGuard provides a clear picture of workforce health and identifies at-risk employees, so businesses can scale operations up or down as needed while economies reopen or contract.

The FeverGuard management console allows a manager or administrator to receive alerts, create reports, and recognize correlations or anomalies across their entire organization. To ensure employees’ data privacy, employers who use FeverGuard for their workforce do not receive employee temperature data. They simply receive an alert when a threshold has been breached.

FeverGuard should be part of any manufacturing organization's health and employee benefits package.