OP-ED. The Impact of COVID-19 on US Manufacturing

OP-ED. The Impact of COVID-19 on US Manufacturing
Credit: MachineMetrics

By Lou Zhang, Chief Data Scientist, MachineMetrics

MachineMetrics offers an industrial IOT platform for machines. They are leveraging their data set to closely monitor the impact COVID-19 is having on manufacturing in the United States. They are also providing updates regularly via their blog

machine metricsThe COVID-19 pandemic is causing everyone to feel a bit uncertain. Our day to day lives are being impacted and so are our businesses. More than ever, employees are looking to their management teams for direction and to lead them through this difficult time. Thoughtful management of your people & resources, and using data to make good decisions is critical. There will be a lot to balance in the coming weeks – customer needs, supply chain challenges, staffing considerations, but having a strategy to leverage data to aid in decision-making is the key.

The Methodology

MachineMetrics streams data live off of thousands of machines across the United States, covering all geographies, sizes of companies, and major industries. We have collected data from over 1 billion parts, and have a representative sample of US manufacturing – we regularly lead indicators like Capacity Utilization and Industrial Production. We believe our data can be especially helpful in times like these, when monthly economic indicators may be slow to come out or inaccurate due to under-reporting from sampled companies. 

The Early April Trends

Since our last blog-update (March 23rd), there have been several notable trends. Most importantly, the decline in utilization seems to have leveled off, for now, due largely to manufacturers re-tooling and responding to demand for necessary life-support equipment.

We saw a relative 17% decline, or ~5% absolute decline, in utilization during the month of March, from ~30% to ~25%. It appears as if a stabilization has occurred starting on March 28th. This is the day the US surpassed China as having the most coronavirus cases in the world, the House approved a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package, and hospitals really heightened their alarm for ventilators and PPE. These elements may have driven some manufacturers to choose to re-tool rather than shut down in the days leading up to the 28th.

7-day moving average of utilization MachineMetrics

7-day moving average of utilization (MachineMetrics)

Digging deeper into this by industry, we validate the data corroborates our theory amongst our customer base. There was a marked increase in utilization from the Automotive segment and Industrial Machinery segment around the end of March, as they prepare to re-tool to manufacture medical components. This has partially offset the continued decrease we see in Aerospace & Defense, as Boeing and other major manufacturers continue to struggle. Medical device manufacturing, unsurprisingly, continues to rise and is now our highest-utilization industry as of March 31st, historically being in 3rd place.

Note that industry breakdowns do not have large enough sample size per vertical to claim this reflects broader industry trends. We merely claim these trends hold true for MachineMetrics customers.

machine metrics

Data by industry (MachineMetrics)


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