How Covid-19 Has Impacted Supply Chain and Technology

EDI robotic 144243361 1500

The world has adapted to a new way of life in 2020. In just a year, people have become veterans of lock-downs, quarantining, and finding new ways to keep businesses and life moving. Supply chains have also been affected, as workers stay home to stay safe.  


Covid-19’s first major disruption began in January 2020. With the disease originating in Wuhan, China, the country began to shut down in response to the virus; a critical link in the global technology chain was broken. China is a massive global supplier, and a large part of the world’s technology ecosystem. 

Engineers have taken this unique problem as an opportunity to explore different ways of working with the technology available, rather than being constrained by the conventional ‘part-cost’ model of the past. These changes were already in place before Covid-19, but the virus has certainly sped it up. 

The engineering community has, therefore, become increasingly creative and inspired with the resources available, such as an orthopaedics business 3D printing a ‘digital twin’ of a raw cast part they could not yet obtain for a composite item they needed. This allowed them to have a test version of the raw cast part they needed and meant that they could ensure the full manufacturing process was ready for when the actual part arrived. 

Aside from this, manufacturers have also struggled to obtain specific materials and alloys necessary in producing certain goods. This has meant that alternatives and additives had to be sourced in order to keep production up and running, as well as avoiding delays. 

EDI robotic 139802694 1500

Companies using robotic, cobotic and other robotic automated handling systems discovered that adding additives to the parts that they produced would help to keep supply lines running and would therefore help to offset the Covid-related supply chain delays.

The parts, when printed with continuous carbon fibre within a tough nylon/CF base matric material. They had the same strength as the original part but were far lighter. The robotic arms also had less weight to work with and therefore line stops were reduced as the arms had increased speed and productivity. 

Some engineers also take their 3D printers home during lockdown in order to continue to keep production and their hours up whilst not endangering the workers on site. 

These instances highlight how engineers not only adapt, but excel when times change and they have different resources readily available to them. Necessity is the mother of invention after all, and engineers have definitely stepped up to plate. 

This marks a new era for design freedom and speed, and possibly the end of the ‘part-cost’ decision process. Supply uncertainty also gives customers the incentive to inflate demand, which is an extra push for those in charge of supply to rise to the challenge of understanding and reshaping their previous methods and models. 

Source


  1. Source: “Comment: How COVID has accelerated additive adoption”, The Engineer, (https://www.theengineer.co.uk/engineering-freedom-additive-markforged/).
  2. Source: “Coronavirus and technology supply chains: How to restart and rebuild”, McKinsey and Company, (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/coronavirus-and-technology-supply-chains-how-to-restart-and-rebuild#)

 

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • General Motors Planning Autonomous Vehicles Sans Controls
  • Forestry sector providing job relief for former oil patch workers
  • Small business tax rate cut to 3.5 percent will only partially mitigate impact of minimum wage increases, both set for January 1 in Ontario
  • Fuel cell market will double in five years: report
  • Study of Ontario power needs finds nuclear is best option
  • Global Response to Autonomous Vehicles
  • Space-based solar power beamed to earth may be the future of green power
  • Zinc-air battery shows great promise in search for energy storage
  • NASA says human Mars landing is feasible by 2030s
  • Tesla wall-mounted battery will power the whole household
  • Canadian work in composite materials honoured with innovation awards
  • Talk of recovery in Canada's oilpatch as Encana posts better than expected earnings
  • Quebec aerospace industry focused on US growth
  • Construction giant to revolutionize industry with 3D concrete printing
  • Ford launches new Edge for global market from Oakville
  • Vehicle sales, mainly light trucks, continued to soar in January
  • With a 500 km range and 408 horsepower, Volvo's new Polestar EV may rival Tesla
  • Carbon Nanotubes — from energy storage to automotive parts, from electromagnetic shields to biomedical applications — light, stable, durable
  • Canada's exports soared in June while imports fell
  • Ontario on track to lead country in employment, economic growth
Scroll to Top