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The Coronavirus’ Effect on the Manufacturing, Automation & Robotics Industry, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic had broad effects of all facets of the manufacturing, automation and robotics industry.  By the fall of 2020, most manufacturers were struggling to keep up with demand for durable goods after weeks (or even months) of factory shutdowns, while evolving personnel scheduling to maintain social distance between workers.  The two areas hardest hit were cars and housing, which continued to be in high demand well into 2021.
The Coronavirus also emphasized the advantages of robotics.  The use of automation and robots in manufacturing tasks enables social distancing for human workers while it increases efficiency.  Robots are also being adapted to perform tasks that human staff cannot accomplish if they are working from home.  The pandemic will increase installation of robotics, as well as both private and government-sponsored investment in robotics/automation research and development (R&D).  Nations including Japan, Germany, China, Korea and the United States, all considered to be long-term leaders in robotics and automation, have significantly increased their robotics R&D efforts over the past few years, and this trend will continue at a rapid pace.  Overall, the Coronavirus caused a net loss to both global manufacturing and total global economic output for 2020.

Robotics in the Medical Field
=         Robotics are enhancing the efficiency of human workers while making them safer at work.
=         Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are moving supplies, such as sterilized items, through hospital corridors—this is particularly valuable inside of quarantine areas.
=         Robotic arms are handling samples of blood and other items for testing.
=         Mobile robots, including Omron’s LD Series, are navigating hospital areas, sanitizing on the go via ultraviolet light.
Coronavirus Effects on Global Manufacturing
=         At the onset of the pandemic, many plants shut down temporarily, sending workers home.
=         When factories reopened, workers found greatly altered work rules, including human distancing, frequent health testing and the wearing of masks.
=         Manufacturing demand for certain types of items initially soared during the Coronavirus, particularly those that appealed to people who were sheltering at home or working from home.  These included processed foods; leisure, hobby and recreational items; laptop computers, home improvement items/building supplies; and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff use.
=         Other types of manufacturing went into a deep slump, including: petroleum refining, aircraft manufacturing and apparel manufacturing.  Some of these markets will see long-term structural changes due to lessened consumer demand.

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