Manufacturing and Warehousing Boom
Coronavirus has severely disrupted global supply, yet with domestic demand soaring, Australia’s manufacturing and warehousing industries are booming. In a call to keep shelves full, opportunities abound for job seekers as the industry strives to keep up with demand.
This is evident with the extraordinary demand for medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential grocery items. As Australians stockpile supplies for home isolation, warehouses are emptying before they can be re-stocked and manufacturers are working around the clock to produce goods.
Nowchem is a rural company manufacturing hand sanitizer, cleaning products and toilet paper. Managing Director, John Lamont told the ABC that production has increased from one container of cleaning products a month to four containers a week. Lamont hopes to “grow his business further to give as many people work opportunities as possible.”
“For national security reasons alone, I think there will be some pretty massive onshoring especially for items that are needed in emergencies like the one we are in now,” Lily Fang, originally from China, now finance professor at INSEAD, France told Forbes magazine.
“The Australian Government Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has cut the red tape on the manufacturing of hand sanitiser, whilst maintaining strict safety requirements, to bolster supply in Australia,” Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP outlined in an official statement. “These changes will make it easier for Australian businesses to produce and supply hand sanitiser to meet rising demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Distilleries across the country have thus begun converting their alcohol factories into hand sanitiser production lines to meet the national demand. Stuart Gregor chair of the Australian Distillers Association reported, “The first production of 4,500 units of 500ml bottles sold out in less than an hour.”
Packaging companies are also repurposing factories in response to the crisis, expanding employment opportunities. Detmold, an Adelaide-based food packaging company announced it will produce hundreds of millions of respirators and surgical masks for the state and federal stockpiles.
Sanitary paper product manufacturers like Kimberley-Clark Pacific Holdings have accelerated production to address the unprecedented demand of toilet paper, paper towel, nappies, tissues and sanitary napkins, all featuring high on the shopping lists of panic buyers.
Another industry leader, ABC Tissues, makers of Quilton products, have recently donated one million rolls of toilet paper to Australian charities and increased production by 25%. Now operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There has also been a spike in demand for white goods, electrical appliances, books, boardgames, entertainment, DIY kits, home gym and fitness equipment, home renovation and gardening supplies to support the current home isolation lifestyle.
Retailers are working closely with manufacturers and warehouses, adapting business to manage the rising demand. “We are working closely with suppliers to get stock into stores to meet customer demand and our suppliers have been a huge support in making this happen,” stated Mike Schneider, Managing Director of hardware giant, Bunnings.
Bunnings has introduced product limits and extended trading hours to help level consumption demand. Their range has also expanded to include home gym equipment, as fitness centres close with social-distancing regulations.
This growth is offering long-term and short-term jobs in manufacturing and warehousing. The employment increase in these industries has seen a flow-on effect in transport and logistics, as firms determine to deliver stock in burning demand.
New South Wales (NSW) Premier, Gladys Berejiklian reached out to state firms to diversify their production to meet demand. “This is a call to arms for NSW manufacturers to look at ways to convert production lines into making the items we so desperately need.”
“Importantly, providing this opportunity to manufacturers will also allow some businesses to keep people in jobs when they may not have been able to do so,” said Berejiklian.
Australian companies that produced ‘non-essentials’ have responded to the call, producing in demand items that are helping Australians survive the pandemic. While essential goods manufacturers are experiencing unprecedented production rates. The manufacturing and warehousing industry has proven to be one of the most flexible and most reliable industries to work in.