Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Report: Manufacturers concerned about PPE shortages as they prepare to resume operations


May 5, 2020
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Manufacturers in Southern Ontario are gearing up for returning to work following the release of provincial safety guidelines last week, but they are concerned about not having enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for their workforce.

That’s the key concern in the sixth weekly survey of the Canadian Association of Moldmakers (CAMM) and Automate Canada membership.

Forty-three per cent of the 61 respondents report not having sufficient PPE specific to the prevention of virus spread. Work is underway to identify the exact nature of the shortages and to develop supply chains to find PPE.

The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program tops the list of programs being accessed by manufacturers. The results cover the week of April 21-28.

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The number of employees laid off decreased to a total of 90 employees laid off temporarily, compared to 143 in week five. The data shows that temporary layoffs have slowed significantly, while “furloughs” have increased – effectively retaining employees with government assistance.

Knowing that the mold, tool, die and industrial automation industries – which make up the majority of respondents’ industries – are looking near-term to supporting the ramp up of major manufacturers, employee retention is critically important.

Requests for quote, or RFQs, are up at a level higher than temporary delays and almost equal to cancellations, and almost half of respondents predicted they will be at over 90 per cent of full operations by this week.

Shelley Fellows, chair of Automate Canada, says data rules in terms of getting the attention of government and even others in the industry. “We are starting to see trends and we can also work to provide help where we see needs.”

Financial concerns continue to weigh on respondents. In response, CAMM and Automate Canada hosted an “Ask Us Anything” webinar on Apr. 28 to deliver detailed information on financial programs for manufacturers from the government as well as banking, with an expert panel comprised of BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), EDC (Export Development Canada), RBC (Royal Bank of Canada, KPMG Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade.

CAMM and Automate Canada have also launched a bi-weekly “deep dive” study into the cash flow concerns expressed in the surveys. Results for the first financial study will be released soon.