The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed personal and professional operating environments alike. For Onex Inc., a furnace and refractory supplier to the forging and other heat-intensive industries, the pandemic forced a rethinking of ongoing operations that enabled the business to maintain its operations. Believing that the company would be stronger if it were employee-owned, it became an ESOP company in July.
March 2020 is a month few people in America will ever forget. Here in Pennsylvania, our world as manufacturers came to an abrupt halt on Thursday, March 19, when Governor Tom Wolf ordered the closure of all businesses on the following day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The only exceptions were those businesses listed as “life-sustaining.”
The COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise this year. It has affected everyone and every business. A very large portion of manufacturing was shut down in an effort to “flatten the curve,” and even those who remained open have dealt with COVID issues such as employees who are afraid to come to work for fear of being exposed.
Howmet Aerospace (formerly Arconic) recently shed 131 of the 600 workers at its manufacturing facility in Niles, Ohio. The workforce reductions – through direct layoffs, attrition and voluntary retirements – are the result of a weakened economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Howmet Aerospace produces engineered products and forgings such as engine components, fastening systems and forged wheels.
Mask-wearing showed up a little late in the strategy to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus but has since caught on. Presently, masks have become more the norm than the exception, and many states, cities and towns across the country have been advised or ordered to wear them in public.
India’s Bharat Forge announced that it will partially resume manufacturing operations at its Mundhwa, Chakan and Satara plants pursuant to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bharat Forge is commencing operations in a gradual manner pending the completion of mandatory safety checks and training personnel on physical distancing, health and hygiene per guidelines stipulated by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. The training for employees includes: mandatory self-declaration of good health before joining; the wearing of face masks; regular sanitization of personal items and work stations; maintaining social distancing; and thorough sanitization of all workplaces, buses and other official vehicles after each trip.
The Executive Committee of the Forging Industry Association’s (FIA) Board of Directors has decided to cancel the International Forging Congress (IFC) 2020 scheduled for September 19-21 at the Marriott Magnificent Mile Downtown in Chicago, Ill. This step has been taken because of the safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. FIA could not be assured that the configurations in the venues where IFC 2020 activities were scheduled to be held could be arranged in a manner to provide sufficient protection for delegates and exhibitors against the transmission of COVID-19. Delegates who have registered and paid to attend IFC 2020 will be reimbursed 100% of their registration fees. Those companies that have reserved and paid for a booth or tabletop at IFC 2020 will be reimbursed 100% of their registration fees. Emails will be sent to both groups explaining the reimbursement process.
Sheffield Forgemasters is devoting its 3D-printing facility to help protect vulnerable, frontline national health service (NHS) workers and assist in the U.K.'s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s Research, Design and Technology (RD&T) department has started to produce 3D-printed components for protective visors used by NHS staff. The initiative coincides with the request of the mayor of the Sheffield City Region for South Yorkshire businesses to join the national effort and help make life-saving medical equipment during the pandemic. RD&T uses its 3D-printing output to produce models and prototypes for ultra-large, complex steel components, but – with the ability to 3D-print the visor components – the business is more than happy to play its part in assisting the fight against the pandemic.
According to research conducted by Clear Seas Research (a BNP Media Company) April 2-6, 63% of active business and 57% of planned business throughout the manufacturing industry is still on schedule during the coronavirus pandemic. These numbers show a decline from the last survey March 24-26, which showed 67% of active business and 63% of planned business was on schedule. Along those lines, 9% of active business has been cancelled, which is an increase from the 7% reported in the last survey.
Ford is delaying the restart of production at its North America plants to help protect its workers. The company aimed to restart production April 6 at Hermosillo Assembly Plant and April 14 at several key U.S. plants but has now further postponed those dates. The Rawsonville Components Plant will restart the week of April 20 to produce the Model A-E ventilator, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, supported by paid volunteer UAW workers. The Model A-E ventilator is a basic, cost-efficient design that addresses the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Production will quickly scale up to produce 50,000 ventilators by July 4.