Looking Back: The Changing face of Manufacturing

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You can probably guess what’s coming. “2020 was probably the most difficult year in history.” Yes, 2020 was unparalleled in its circumstances and the changes brought to the global economy. But one field in particular that saw great changes as a result of the 2020 infection is manufacturing, for better and for worse.

2020 certainly brought great circumstantial pressure, but the interesting and long-standing changes it brought to manufacturing will have their long-term effect. As the pandemic hit, manufacturing was occurring at almost 100% capacity for health consumables. Most factories in china doubtlessly turned to cheap manufacturing of masks—a very easy product to produce in large volumes but nevertheless unable to keep up with the demands of a very busy health sector. Factories with any manufacturing capability, where they could, turned to the manufacturing of masks, gowns, face shields, gloves—really anything to help with the COVID-19 effort.

This presented a problem to wholesalers such as Westlab. Small factories in countries such as China or Thailand which were just one of many low-pay, high volume factories which would produce anything for anyone. As always, the factories would make some success. People would buy anything to be compliant and safe in the COVID environment where almost all physical environments were infection prone.

However, once supply chain issues untied themselves, and the COVID panic-buy fever died off, these factories lost their place. Westlab Health’s secure supply chain of approved, reputable products which meet guidelines and regulations are an example of the real deal which the health sector really required.

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However, with small manufacturers still advertising PPE products, the danger is that products are sold without TGA approval and are advertised with false standards. This means that the buyer could be unwittingly compromising on safety and compliance.

What is 2021 Shaping up to be?

Manufacturing is a lot more secure than the initial stages of COVID-19, namely because it has had a chance to meet the lessened demand of rush buying in initial pandemic stages. However, it is still trying to bounce back.

Glove manufacturing has taken hits, not only because of COVID-19 but also due to issues in Asian countries which exploit poor workers and get by with very low wages, cramped living conditions and unfair working conditions. While it is still bouncing back, the reality is that the long-term implications of the pandemic will be painfully visible. Not only has demand increased in the long term, meaning manufacturing for PPE will have continued pressure, the unpredictability of COVID-19 and the need to contain it always leaves distributors and wholesalers faced with panic buys at any moment.

Resultant to these fluctuations in demand, supply constraints and manufacturing limitations are fluctuations in price. For example, glove manufacturing limitations of late are having their knock-on effect on price, which has steadily risen since the pandemic and since the closure of large plants in Malaysia. Prices overall are inevitably exhibiting a general rise compared to pre-pandemic prosperity times.

Unless COVID-19 continues to rear its ugly head and constrict nations, manufacturing will slowly return to ‘normal’ where predictable and regular output will continue to meet regular demand. However, COVID-19 having left us an infernal mess, has affected the health sector so that PPE will become a crucial part of life, in addition to previously necessary measures to prevent contamination. Manufacturing will no matter remain the heartbeat of the economy, but another trend is being noticed.

Where large countries such as China are concerned, despite their unusually and bafflingly low infection numbers, COVID-19 has hit them just as hard. Local manufacturing has never been so important, with many now choosing to pay the higher price for the higher quality and assurance of supply and paying for the boosting of our own economy and local jobs. This new trend of going local, somewhat forced into being by the events of the last twelve months, is perhaps one of the best changes happening to Australian economics at the moment.

Westlab’s commitment is to put local first. Our locally manufactured products are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch—no-one can beat Australian Made. In the most unstable times we’ve ever encountered, this should be your priority: put local first and receive absolute assurance of supply and solid compliance.


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