Pandemic-Driven Changes in South Africa’s Manufacturing and Supply Chains

Almost everyone and everything has been forced to adapt to the realities of a world plagued by Covid-19. This goes for South Africa and her economy too, specifically, it has caused several significant changes in the manufacturing industry and supply chains that feed into them.

Supply chains are a vital cog in the manufacturing-business machine, companies depend on the accessibility and consistency of raw materials and other resources that are used to design, build and sell their goods. Unfortunately, the pandemic has meant that the usual supply chain infrastructure has been blocked, slowed or weakened in many parts of the country and the world.

However, the changes that are occurring in manufacturing and supply chains have offered some interesting opportunities and inspired an accelerating of the industry’s digital transformation during this time, too. Shifting businesses online, creating local supply and demand, building more resilient operations and responding to calls for PPE and other pandemic goods are some of the positive changes that can occur during these difficult pandemic times.

Digital transformations in manufacturing

The impact of Covid-19 and the ensuing supply chain disruptions, have caused the inevitable digital transformation of the manufacturing industry to speed up. So many factors of production have had to change, such as finding alternate suppliers and delivery services or ordering materials from within South Africa rather than from overseas suppliers and waiting longer for some of those materials.

The constant potential for change of suppliers, delivery services, routes, timelines and costs mean that manufacturers will need to be quicker, smarter and more adaptable to maintain their production lines. Shifting their operations to digital platforms can make sourcing and managing new suppliers much easier as well as offering benefits for operational management and sales, more generally.

Changing demands and limitations on certain non-essential goods forced manufacturers to become more agile in order to address the significant changes to South Africa’s economy during national lockdowns. ERP systems have become an essential tool for keeping track of the financial and functional wellbeing of a company as businesses continue to make their digital leap. Manufacturers must remain nimble as we move towards online sales, versatile supply chains and demands that continue to evolve during the pandemic.

Local manufacturing and versatile supply chains

There has been a distinct shift in where South African manufacturers get their input materials and what they are producing with them. There are obvious changes that will occur as a result of countries, transportation and suppliers which are in a lockdown phase as well as a significant boost in the demand for medical and household PPE.

A distinct uptick in the demand for items like face masks, sanitisers, latex gloves and ventilators has inspired many local manufacturers to up their production capability and widen their supply. Other local businesses, like clothing brands, got themselves involved by producing items such as fashionable face masks and other PPE clothing.

Being adaptable as a manufacturer, during the pandemic, is about more than being able to produce different types of goods in a cost-effective and sustainable way that meets new demands. Being adaptable means having a supply chain structure that is agile and adaptable to unexpected changes and difficulties in normal operations.

Technology’s role in these changes

Technology is the proprietor of the future, as it offers us new and interesting ways to conduct our usual business. Many South African manufacturers have decided to use their existing manufacturing infrastructure – or newly built ones – to produce different goods that are in higher demand, like face masks. However, almost all South African businesses, in any industry, have begun to reinforce and strengthen their business IT and digital presence while Covid-19 is still devastating in-person business.

With the overwhelming explosion of online sales, remote work and digital commerce, businesses are requiring better IT infrastructure and resources from ERP systems to digital invoicing and at-home IT solutions to the right video calling app. Technology gives manufacturers the digital support they need to conduct their production and resourcing in ways that are modern, adaptable and maintainable despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Manufacturers that are optimising their IT systems and making themselves more digitally accessible are creating a foundation for their future. The digital transformation is happening in industries all over the country and there is going to be a price to pay for those who fall behind during the tumultuous economic period we are in. In order to stay relevant, meet evolving demand, produce efficiently and sustain a versatile supply chain, manufactures will be using this moment of digital transformation and innovation to drive these needed – and exciting – changes to their industry.

Lorge have been offering IT infrastructure and business management solutions for years and we are ready to help your business through this difficult period. To find out what improvements we could make together, contact us at Lorge.