Manufacturing Helps the U.S. Fight Back Against COVID-19
The United States of America is a team effort. Citizens, businesses, government, all play a specific role towards strengthening the country.
Manufacturing has unfortunately been put on the figurative bench as public perception continues to misrepresent the industry’s progress and importance. That is, until the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of this vital industry. Basketball fans will know the term, ‘Sixth man’. This term refers to players who are not starters but come off the bench much more often than other reserves. The individual may even play more minutes and even post similar statistics as starters. Having a reliable Sixth Man can secure a team the win.
Manufacturing Is the Country’s Sixth Man
“Powerful enemies must be out-fought and out-produced,” President Franklin Roosevelt told Congress less than a month after Pearl Harbor. He continued with, “We must out-produce them overwhelmingly, so that there can be no question of our ability to provide a crushing superiority of equipment in any theatre of the world war.” The world is back at war, but this time it is fighting against an invisible enemy.
New Jersey Manufacturing Standing Strong
Manufacturing is once again being called off the bench, to help push the country and the world through this devastating pandemic. In New Jersey, all manufacturing was deemed essential because a seamless running supply chain was too critical to hinder. Manufacturing is responsible for the food we eat, the electronics we depend on while stay-at-home orders were imposed, the medicine we require, health care equipment, Personal Protection Equipment we all now need, every single object, component, or material around the room right now was all manufactured.
All Eyes on Manufacturing
All eyes were on life-sciences and pharmaceutical manufacturers when COVID-19 cases started rising in the United States. The call was made to develop, manufacture, and distribute a safe vaccine as quickly as possible. COVID-19 presented an entirely new challenge, never seen in modern history, The entire economy was put on hold. potentially hindering the production of a vaccine. Still, everyone wanted a vaccine to be produced but few realize the manufacturing resources this initiative requires. Not only did scientists from all over the world need to study the virus, but manufacturers like Pfizer needed to prepare for an unprecedented demand for a completely new vaccine. Producing a vaccine on such a massive scale is no easy feat. It requires unparalleled coordination, an in-depth understanding of a complex manufacturing process, and the resources to distribute the vaccine to millions of people all over the country and around the world.
The public may not realize that manufacturing still matters but everyone that receives a vaccine will have the Sixth Man to thank, United States manufacturing.
Beyond the vaccine itself, manufacturers of all kinds are involved in this incredible undertaking. Businesses that manufacture dry ice like the family-run Baltimore company Capitol Carbonic (which was contacted by Pfizer because they needed quarter-inch dry-ice pellets) are critical. Companies that produce the vaccine packaging will be involved. Labeling manufacturers will need to be highly engaged to ensure all the vaccine packaging is correctly labeled. There are copious links in the modern supply chain, all vital. Each must be able to do their job to accomplish such a monumental goal to develop, manufacture, and distribute vaccines to a public crushed by a global pandemic.
All Manufacturing Is Essential
Consistently reinforcing the fact that all manufacturing is essential has been the theme of 2020. This message started in New Jersey with NJMEP’s advocacy to ensure all manufacturing was considered an essential business once stay-at-home orders were being enacted in the state. The case was made that choosing select manufacturers to remain open would be inefficient and wildly ineffective. An auto-parts manufacturer may not seem essential at first, but the trucks responsible for distributing the vaccine will need to have a constant flow of replacement parts just in case one breaks down. A packaging manufacturer may not look essential from the outside, but the second a vaccine manufacturer can’t ship their life-saving product being they can’t source labels, it becomes clear that the supply chain is a fragile organism.
In New Jersey, commercial print shops like Hatteras Press started producing face shields. Cosmetics & Perfume Filling & Packaging, Inc. switched from packing perfume to bottling hand sanitizer. Henderson Promos began the certification process to produce FDA approved face masks and began manufacturing. Concept Print put their screen-printing business on hold to produce masks and gowns. A flashlight manufacturer, TekTite began making plastic face shields. Apparel manufacturer, Unionwear shifted to producing plastic face shields and gowns. Jim Hofmann, STEM teacher at Newton NJ High School even began collaborating with colleagues and students to 3D print face shields. All these examples are just a drop in the bucket compared to the full list of New Jersey manufacturers that retooled, remained agile, and repositioned themselves to start producing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Without these businesses going above and beyond to help address the massive demand for PPE, there’s no telling how many more lives may have been lost.
Manufacturers support other manufacturers, up and downstream. The supply chain is an intricate weave of sub-contractors, OEM’s, small businesses, massive corporations, logistics providers, distributors, all of them essential.
The 6th Man – United States Manufacturing
A global pandemic is a destructive force. However, there can be positives that come out of such a trying situation. Communities come together to give back and work hard to overcome the situation at hand. Food drives like NJMEP’s Manufacturing Cares initiative raised over $100,000 in 2020 alone, more than doubling any previous record. Large U.S. manufacturers like Pfizer will do whatever it takes to create a life-saving vaccine. New Jersey manufacturers retooled to support those critical front-line healthcare workers.
Manufacturing is a key player. This industry is essential and has saved countless lives by continuing to provide critical products throughout the pandemic. The value of manufacturing cannot be ignored. The 6th man plays an important role when it comes to basketball; when it comes to the well-being of the country, manufacturing is invaluable.
This article first appeared in Manufacturing Matters! Download your complimentary copy of New Jersey’s manufacturing magazine, today.