Last year was characterized by one thing in particular: The Covid-19 virus. For the first study by GREAN GmbH from Garbsen, more than 80 manufacturing companies were surveyed online or by telephone about their situation in the pandemic. The result of the first study: most companies were optimistic about future developments. But how do things look at the end of 2020?
"This is the second time we have investigated how the Corona pandemic is affecting target variables in production," explains Dr. Tobias Heinen, managing director of GREAN. "In addition to the impact, for example, on the logistical performance of production, we can now also see how perceptions have changed over the summer and which topics are important right now," continues the engineer with a doctorate.
A total of 90 companies from the metalworking, plant and mechanical engineering, medical technology and plastics industries took part in the second study. And the positive outlook for the future remains: only seven percent of the companies see their situation deteriorating in the future.
Companies remain optimistic
Three quarters of the companies surveyed say that the number of suppliers has remained the same, even in these sometimes difficult times. Capacity utilization in production remains high, with more than 50 percent of companies even expecting capacity utilization to increase. Dr. Tobias Heinen states: "We are currently seeing an improvement in individual important indicators. For example, the degree of perceived uncertainty is falling and capacity utilization in production is also rising."
In contrast, willingness to invest remains subdued. 78.6 percent report it as "medium" or "low." In times of crisis and with the end of the pandemic uncertain, this is not surprising. 13.8 percent of respondents say they will reduce their willingness to invest even further in the future. However, the feeling of uncertainty is also on the decline: while more than 94 percent of companies still felt uncertain in the first study, the figure is now 20.7 percent with a "high" and 65.5 percent with a "medium".
A look into the future
GREAN GmbH asked not only about the status of companies, but also about future trends. Here, too, there is a clear constant: for most of the companies surveyed, increasing efficiency and cost cutting remains one of the most important topics. Compared to the previous study, the topic of digitization has lost relevance, but remains important. However, this does not apply to the topic of climate protection and CO2 neutrality. It seems to be less relevant for the production of the surveyed companies of the future than it was in the preliminary study.
In GREAN’s final question to the companies about the topic that will be at the forefront of production in the future, both efficiency topics and the development of new markets and products are ahead.
Overall, the economic mood in the companies surveyed appears to be good, and the mood remains optimistic. There were hardly any major changes within the production areas. In contrast, a shift is emerging, particularly for the future: Efficiency topics are becoming increasingly important. Resource efficiency, on the other hand, seems to be becoming more of a "luxury issue". It remains to be seen how the situation within manufacturing companies will change in 2021.