80% of manufacturers have adopted new ways of working during the lockdown

A new report by online metal supplier, SteelScout, highlights the impact that Covid-19 has had on supply chains and indicates that digital platforms will play a fundamental role as manufacturers return to work.

The Coronavirus crisis has fundamentally changed the way that we work and will continue to have a huge impact for the foreseeable future. One of the key learnings has been the positive impact that digital tools and platforms have had on supply chain operations during this crisis.

In an environment of remote or split team working, digital platforms have kept scattered workforces connected and productive by enabling them to access and share information from any device or location.

How digital platforms can help manufacturers navigate the ‘new normal’

There have been a lot of conversations around the ‘new normal’ and what that means for the manufacturing industry and supply chains.

The latest government guidance on Covid-19 and the easing of lockdown rules has given us all food for thought on how best to return to business in an environment that is very different to the one we left only a few months ago.


new ways of working - depositphotos


During lockdown, manufacturers have had to rapidly pivot to new ways of working to comply with guidelines.

A new report by from online metal supplier  SteelScout found that almost 80% of businesses had adopted new ways to work during lockdown.

The report, which can be downloaded here, sought the opinions of more than 100 organisations across the sector, also found that these new approaches were largely enabled by digital technologies from remote working and video conferencing to the use of new digital procurement platforms.

As the broader workforce begins to transition back to work and operate at pre-lockdown levels, let’s explore more of the lessons have we learned so far from this extraordinary time.

Rethinking the supply chain

Despite finding innovative ways to navigate this period, manufacturers have struggled with the supply of key materials during the crisis with a third of the SteelScout survey respondents stating that their regular suppliers had closed.

Not only have there been significant delays in supply chains from closures or suppliers changing their ways of working, but a lack of visibility has also prevented manufacturers from planning ahead and operating efficiently.


New Scout on tablet image - SteelScout

Image courtesy of SteelScout


SteelScout’s survey found that 65% of respondents said it has been harder to secure the materials they need during lockdown, while close to 40% said it is taking them longer just to obtain a ‘winning quote’ from suppliers.

To build a more resilient supply in the future, greater visibility of the supply chain was selected as the most useful factor in fulfilling post-pandemic orders by more than 40% of respondents. A more diverse supplier network and time-saving technology to boost efficiency were also highlighted as priorities by a fifth.

The ‘new normal’ will require a digital mindset

 Digitalisation has already played a significant role in keeping businesses moving during the crisis by ensuring remote teams are connected and productive. But while many industrial sectors have embraced technology, digital transformation is still a work in progress for others.

Metal distribution is one sector that is currently at the early stages of digitisation.

Metal is a vital part of the supply chain for many manufacturers. Yet while some distributors are shifting towards e-commerce platforms, and buyers are evolving their traditional procurement processes, the sector is only at the beginning of discovering the power of this channel.


UK SMEs CNC Laser plasma cutting of metal, modern industrial technology - image courtesy of Depositphotos.


Now more than ever, digitalisation can provide key benefits for both buyers and suppliers as we head into a period of recovery.

It offers reach and access at scale; platforms are accessible 24/7 from any device or location and businesses aren’t constrained to 9-5 hours or a place of work. This is especially valuable for remote and split teams as UK manufacturing transitions to new ways of working.

Digitalisation also enables large volumes of buyers and suppliers to instantly connect and transact and automate basic admin tasks in the process.

There are a number of digital platforms to support manufacturers during this time and for those businesses that require metal for their production process, SteelScout can help safeguard metal supplies and deliver efficiency and value in the process.

SteelScout is a multi-supplier procurement platform that leverages bespoke digital technology to connect buyers with a UK network of suppliers, giving them access to highly competitive pricing and de-risking supply.

In these times like these, SteelScout’s services can safeguard supply by rapidly matching buyer’s requirements to the best available suppliers and ensure that they can still access the materials they need at the best value.

SteelScout offers two metal procurement services; SteelScout Procure, a tailored quoting service for more bespoke requirements and SteelScout Direct, a metal comparison engine for buyers that want to instantly compare supplier and buy online.

Both services are free to use for buyers and source quotes from a large network of distributors, meaning buyers deal with only one supplier process and credit account instead of many.

Manufacturing’s ‘new normal’ after Covid-19

As manufacturing businesses return to work, there are a number of complex factors to manage including safety, social distancing and maintaining productivity during the transition.

Being confident of accessing the right materials at the right time and at the right price doesn’t have to add to that complexity.

Taking steps to digitise the supply chain now will pay dividends to companies across the UK looking to rebuild and maximise the opportunities that doubtless lie ahead.

You can download a copy of the SteelScout report here


*All uncredited images courtesy of Depositphotos